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Friday, April 29, 2011

Then We Came To An End by Joshua Ferris

Title: Then We Came To An End
Author: Joshua Ferris
Publisher: Back Bay Books/ Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "For anyone who has ever worked in an office, hating everything and everyone in it, yet fell apart when it was time to leave -- this book is for you. Heartbreaking, yet hysterically funny, Then We Came to the End is the definitive novel about the contemporary American workplace. 

With an irresistibly casual writing style, Ferris makes readers a part of his fictional advertising agency from the moment we open the book. Through numerous impromptu conversations, colleagues come alive. We learn that Larry and Amber have had an affair, and that Amber is pregnant. We know that Chris Yop is panicking because he exchanged his office chair without permission, and that Joe Pope is universally despised because he got promoted and now everyone has to listen to him. No one likes Karen Woo because she's always trying to seem smarter than everyone else. And the head boss, Lynn, has cancer, but she doesn't want anyone to know. We understand that the agency is in trouble, and that the unstable Tom Mota is being laid off. We realize that anyone could be next. And we're dying to know what's going to happen.

My Two Cents:

No, we are not dying to know what's going to happen. In my last review post (for Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading), I was talking about how nice it is to be able to see yourself somehow in the books you read. And while I definitely saw myself in Then We Came To An End, it wasn't particularly pleasant. When I graduated college, I was lucky enough to come right into a job. It was a typical office job and when I started, the office was beginning a major transition and was plagued with rumors like the office in the book. So many of the rumors got out of hand in my office and I wasn't and am not particularly interested in re-living the rumors through a book.

At first, the book moved along nicely and then it seemed to get bogged down by all of the characters and their minor issues (that seem to get blown out of proportion). If nothing else, Ferris does capture the reality of so many offices, I'm just not sure there needed to be a book about it.

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars


  1. That was my biggest problem with the novel. I experience an office environment 8+ hours a day, and don't necessarily want to read about it (although, I guess that attests to Ferris's ability as a realistic writer.) Plus, it felt like there were two different novels in this one book, with the second half differing much from the first. I thought it needed a little more cohesion.

  2. I think I'll skip this one...I've worked in an office before, and not sure I want to relive it.

  3. @Jenna (Literature and a Lens) He is definitely a realistic writer but I'm just not sure that office life needed that kind of realistic literary treatment.

  4. @A Buckeye Girl Reads Hah, yeah, I'm not sure I would have finished the book even if I hadn't been reading it for my book club.


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