2008: 102. Then We Came to the End

“We were fractious and overpaid.  Our mornings lacked promise.  At least those of us who smoked has something to look forward to at ten-fifteen.  Most of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything.”

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris

This was my book club’s June book, and though the book club was mixed, I really enjoyed it.  The book was billed (by the blurbs and amazon as such) as hilarious -The Office meets Kafka - and while that isn’t the way I’d describe it, it is an interesting, enjoyable, and extremely well written book.  The book is the story of an office, told in the second person by the people who work there - rather than being about any specific character, the story is told as if by the hive mind of the office itself.  The book slowly unfolds the different personalities in the office at the same time as the office is slowly falling apart because of downsizing.  At first the group is an undifferentiated mass, but soon you start to pick out the personalities, much as when you start to work in an office everyone is a blur, and slowly people go from being identified by some odd quirk (the office gossip, the girl with the bad haircut) to people you actually know.  The structure of the novel is extremely clever in that way - and Ferris actually makes it work as more than just a gimmick.  All the kudos he has gotten are earned.  

Moreover, I really felt that the book had something to say about modern life - the fact is that most of us do spent most of our time in an office, at work, and Ferris captures that part of our lives which is so omnipresent but so often ignored when we think about our “real lives.”  I didn’t find the book hilarious, as it was billed (more darkly comic), but I enjoyed reading it and thought Ferris managed to say something serious while still cranking out a good read.  I recommend it highly.*

*There are also a lot of interesting plot points that we hashed out in great length at book club, but I thought one of the most interesting things about reading the book is how it starts as sort of a rambling collection of anecdotes and ends up actually having a plot, and I’d hate to spoil that aspect.  So read it, and figure out the plots yourself!


Date/Place Completed: 6/1/2008; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Book Club

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017