âThen We Came to the Endâ by Joshua Ferris is part the movie âOffice Space,â part the sitcom âThe Officeâ and all a little too close to home for many office workers, including myself. Ferris is dead-on with his retelling of office life, from the gossips, to the style maven; from the strange older man, to the arm's-length boss.
This book could be taken as a fly-on-the-wall writing exercise, as Ferris places his readers right in the middle of the action for the entire book. Told in the omnipresent âweâ voice, the reader feels as if he could be the narrator, or one of the office workers mentioned or perhaps an office worker who hovers in the background all the time who escapes the other workers' scathing judgments.
As witnessed in many offices, afternoons are spent trying not to fall asleep from the lunch the workers just ate. Also, you don't want to get too much work done and make your fellow co-workers look lazy, but you also don't want to appear to be a slacker.
Ferris' office gets turned on its head when the downsizing begins. No one wants to make the dreaded escorted walk to the elevator with only a file-size cardboard box filled with your personal belongings as evidence that you did indeed work there. No one wants to be the one to make uncomfortable banter with the just-laid-off co-worker at the bar after work where everyone gathers to say goodbye to the latest downsizing victim.
And no one wants to see what will happen when the wrong person gets laid off on the wrong day.
âThen We Came to the Endâ is an engaging page-turner of a book that is sure to entertain anyone who has ever held, not just an office job, but ANY job. Its biting wit and sarcastic observation might just make you grateful for the office you currently work in.
this book had so much hype around it, best book of the year, EW gave it top ratings, so i had high hopes for a fun office-type read... I just did not love it. i suffered through, thinking perhaps it had some nice twist at the end or something, but no, just pretty blah. i was glad when we came to the end...
A lot of critics loved this book, and Entertainment Weekly said it was hilarious and a good choice for anyone who was jonesing for "The Office" (this was during the writers' strike). Wow, I really don't agree.
"Then We Came to the End" is satire -- in other words, either the whole thing is funny to you, or it's not. There are no jokes, clever wordplay, or other comedy elements. That's OK -- satire is a legitimate form of humor; but this one was decidedly not funny to me.
Also, the second-person plural voice used in the novel ("We did this, we did that") was really jarring for me. I just plain did not like this book.
Glorious and creative look at what happens when it all starts to crumble. Fantastic characters and a situation that is so real that it seems bizarre. Sadly - those of us that have worked anywhere with more than 10 employees will be able to identify ourselves and former co-workers among the characters. If you are or have worked with "creatives" it's a must read.
Then We Came to the End explores the relationships of people trying to keep above the increasing boredom of a high-powered world of marketing along the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. The reader is immediately swept into this chaotic office environment and introduced to employees and employers in a sporadic fashion as the plot twists and turns through time; there is no linear progression of people or events as this tale unfolds. Through the unique perspective of a collective "we", Joshua Ferris illustrates how universal office life is across the country. The people he portrays can be in any office in any city and prototypes of these people are everywhere as this office is a paradigm of trends around the country. Many of these employees are from the same mold and seem almost interchangeable with each other as they state "[m]ost of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything". The reader follows the lives of these employees as they deal with strange coworkers, the kidnapping of a daughter, divorce, and unexpected pregnancy. We see these employees navigate through a less than wholesome office environment as major layoffs are occurring.
This work of fiction can be a bit tedious as the story jumps from one time period to another. Ferris chooses to reveal plot points in a slightly confusing manner exemplified in the character of Tom who, very early on, loses his job but keeps being pulled into the story as previous time periods are being described. The reader finds that past events are being described as if they are happening in the present. Are you confused yet?
The collective perspective of all the employees at once does drive home the essence of this monochromatic and universal office life, but in doing so, it does not allow the reader to empathize with the interchangeable protagonist. By creating this strange perspective, Joshua Ferris makes a clear statement about office life at the expense of understanding the employees themselves. The reader can never begin to understand the individuals in this work because we never see them as individuals, but as units of a whole that happen to act differently at times. An employee, Jeannine becomes the focus of the collective when she deals with the loss of her child in a strange manner. The reader, however, only sees the reaction of the collective and can only understand Jeannine through reactions of that collective.
In spite of some issues with this work, Joshua Ferris paints this mundane portrait in such a satirical and humorous way that the reader can't help but laugh and relate to many of the plot twists and descriptions. Then We Came to the End is an intriguing look into the fictional world of office life and Joshua Ferris does an excellent job of portraying this harrowing life. Readers can fully relate to the antics of employees and laugh at the dead-on descriptions of offices across the country.
What starts out as a sort of Hitchhiker's Guide for the office environment wraps around the reader and takes him in. Before you know it, this is reality--and it's hard! I thought this was a really well done book. Very funny, very sad, and a worthwhile read. And believe me, when I picked the book up I was WAY turned off to the idea of reading about office life. I mean I read to escape, not to go right back into my daily routine! Still, this is on my recommended reading shelf at home.
Ok, so apparently I just didn't get the humor part of this book. I heard that it was like reading a script from the show The Office (which I love), and I was very disappointed. Maybe the humor was over my head? Who knows. All I do know is that I feel like I wasted my time rading this book.
The terse recommendations that scattered over the book cover made me suspicious. Nick Hornby found the book "Terrific"? Stephen King thought it was "Hilarious"? What do those two authors have in common and why are most of the cutlines only one word? Did the publishers have to fish through longer reviews to find something positive? Why do I feel like the words surrounding King's "hilarious" are something like "I found it hilarious that anyone would think this book is worth their time"?
I may be being cruel, but everything I heard or read about the book led me to believe it would be funny. It wasn't. I was in the frame of mind to read something along the lines of NBC's "The Office," but this book is darker, not as funny, and confusing.
The book jumps around in time to tell the story of an adverstising agency on its last legs. Maybe someone who has been involved in advertising would like the book because they might recognize their colleagues therein.
I loved this book at the beginning. I was thinking that it was one of the best books I read all year. The first half was witty and bizarre. 1/2 way through it became very serious and had a completely different tone that didn't work for me. I did finish it, and enjoyed, but not one of my favorites.
Very insightful and dead-on accurate telling of office life. I wouldn't call this one of my favorite reads, but it most certainly is a book that I enjoyed. From the situations to the emotions and even to the relationships one feels working in an office, this book touches every nerve. ...and I think I will never look at clowns the same way again.
This was a rather lame read! If I could give 0 stars I would. After readig a 100 pages I finally had to put it down and call it quits. At first it was awesome and I could relate to the writer but then it just seemed to go on and on about the b.s. that goes on in an office. It seemed all that was done was complaining of the office gossip, who did what and who was going to be fired next.
I thought it would have been funnier but the laughs were far and few in between. It also seemed that every other word was a cuss word. I'm not a prude mind you, but when every other word is f*** this and b.s. that, it's like really? really? For an author his vocabulary is small, tiny in fact. It just wasn't a good book for me, sorry!
I REALLY enjoyed this book, I was kind of surprised at how much! It was quite hilarious in parts, but also has its fair share of drama, and is not "just" a book poking fun of or satirizing the modern workplace. The characters are not well-developed in the sense of what would be considered more "literature" / less pop fiction, yet I found myself feeling close to them, or thinking they were distasteful, or sympathizing with them... it's pretty interesting. Really good book, I thought it definitely was worth all the hype it received!
Maybe I have a different sense of humor than the majority of the critics whose quotes grace the cover and interior of the book. I thought parts of the book were humorous (the ongoing tale of the chair comes to mind) but overall I wouldn't qualify it as a humor book, which it is kind of sold as.
I just could not get through this book. My resolution this year is not to spend so much wasted time reading books that I simply don't like...and this was the first one that I actively closed the cover on. Ferris is a talented writer, and I think that he depicts the scenario quite well... but it was awful depressing and the inane day-to-day activities just couldn't hold my interest. I didn't find it to be funny, I couldn't will myself to sit down and finish it, and so I knew that this one just wasn't for me.
Simply one of the most well written books I have ever read. Beautiful. First you think you are reading the novel of The Office, but then you realize it is really Scrubs. Quite a cast of characters to keep track of, but funny at that. A heart-breaking and funny novel that you will be happy you decided to read.
The group perspective was interesting but in some instances made it hard to follow who was doing what. It also seems to jump around in time a little which added to the confusion. It is a very interesting concept but was a little hard to read.
if you like the movie "office space" you may appreciate this book. not the best book ever written, but worthy of reading when you have many hours to travel. bought it in the airport and read it over my 2-week transatlantic travels. didn't see the end coming and i still remember it vividly which doesn't happen for me often. i tend to forget the details. but with this one, it stuck with me.
worth reading once but not a repeat offender.
I bought this book because it had a shiny "National Book Award Finalist" medal on the cover, as well as reviews stating "Entertaining" and "Engrossing" and "Very Funny." Then, inside the book, there were six pages of positive reviews by famous people and publications. Stephen King found it hilarious. One review suggested it might be the next Great American Novel. And to top it off, it was set in my home town, Chicago.
Had to be good, right?
I did not enjoy this book. I love humor - the Jenny Lawson, David Sedaris, Janet Evanovich, Celia Rivenbark, Gary Larson, Woody Allen, Steve Martin type. I like books that make you think - like The Road, The Martian, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This book just made me sad. The characters were selfish and slothful and dying. They were bigots and whiners. Their attempts to help one another were half-hearted and misplaced. If this is what Chicagoans are like these days, I'm glad I don't live there anymore.
Maybe this book describes what life is like in America, but I sure hope not.