Then We Came to the End

( 140 )

Overview

No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth ...

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Overview

No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environment—the one we pretend is normal five days a week.

Winner of the 2007 Discover Award, Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
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.

By the time readers finish the book, they'll swear that Ferris has spent time in their own offices. And they'll thank him for capturing so knowingly what makes it so horrible, and what makes it our own. (Summer 2007 Selection)
Los Angeles Times
"What looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of workplace culture is revealed upon closer inspection to be a very serious novel about, well, America. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel."
The New Yorker
"A masterwork of pitch and tone. . . . Ferris brilliantly captures the fishbowl quality of contemporary office life."
Michael Upchurch
Not too many authors have written the Great American Office Novel. Joseph Heller did it in Something Happened (the one book of his to rival Catch-22). And Nicholson Baker pulled it off in zanily fastidious fashion in The Mezzanine. To their ranks should be added Joshua Ferris, whose THEN WE CAME TO THE END feels like a readymade classic of the genre. . . . A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love, and loneliness.
Seattle Times
Michael Upchurch - Seattle Times
"Not too many authors have written the Great American Office Novel. Joseph Heller did it in Something Happened (the one book of his to rival Catch-22). And Nicholson Baker pulled it off in zanily fastidious fashion in The Mezzanine. To their ranks should be added Joshua Ferris, whose THEN WE CAME TO THE END feels like a readymade classic of the genre. . . . A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love, and loneliness."
From the Publisher
"What looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of workplace culture is revealed upon closer inspection to be a very serious novel about, well, America. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel."—Los Angeles Times

"A masterwork of pitch and tone. . . . Ferris brilliantly captures the fishbowl quality of contemporary office life."—The New Yorker

"Not too many authors have written the Great American Office Novel. Joseph Heller did it in Something Happened (the one book of his to rival Catch-22). And Nicholson Baker pulled it off in zanily fastidious fashion in The Mezzanine. To their ranks should be added Joshua Ferris, whose THEN WE CAME TO THE END feels like a readymade classic of the genre. . . . A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love, and loneliness."—Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

James P. Othmer
Several pages into Joshua Ferris's very funny and impressively observed first novel, Then We Came to the End, we start comparing it with other memorable novels about the world of advertising. But after a few chapters we broaden the parameters and consider it in terms of the corporate novel, the office novel, the cube farm novel. By now, we've met most of the characters -- an eccentric, paranoid, hypercritical group at a failing Chicago ad agency -- and we realize that not only do we want to know more about them, but we've also begun to feel as if we are one of them, congregating in the hall to discuss yet another round of layoffs, the latest confounding assignment or the disturbing behavior of a co-worker. Which is why we conclude that categorizing Then We Came to the End as anything other than an original and inspired work of fiction would be doing it a great disservice.
— The Washington Post
James Poniewozik
Above all, Ferris has a sixth sense for paranoia. Information professionals crave information, and when it is denied them — who is going next, how many and why — they spin superstitious theories and adopt curious totems. The employees discover that the office coordinator keeps tabs on which furniture belongs in which offices, and they fear that their chairs — scavenged from laid-off peers with better furniture, in a round-robin so complex no one remembers whose Aeron was originally whose — will get them fired. The chair becomes a symbol for all that is hated and lusted-after about work. It is a prison and a status symbol, a reminder that “their” offices are not really their own, a means of exercising minor tyranny, a reward, a throne, a life preserver.
— The New York Times
Seattle Times
Not too manyauthors have written the Great American Office Novel. Joseph Heller did it in Something Happened (the one book of his to rival Catch-22). And Nicholson Baker pulled it off in zanily fastidious fashion in The Mezzanine. To their ranks should beadded Joshua Ferris, whose Then We Came to the End feels like a readymadeclassic of the genre.... A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love,and loneliness.
The New Yorker
A masterwork of pitch and tone.... Ferris brilliantly captures the fishbowl quality of contemporary office life.
Publishers Weekly
Among many other reasons, Ferris's debut novel was acclaimed for its unusual point of view: the collective "we." The harried denizens of a Chicago advertising firm form a unified narrator, railing against the boredom of the American white-collar job and the dwindling of their opportunities at the company in the post-Internet bust. Reading a book with such tricky narration is a complex task, and Deanna Hurst, while game, is not quite up to the task. Hurst reads flatly, with little sense of the engaging rhythms of Ferris's comic prose. This abridged version of Ferris's novel often feels heavier, and longer, than the wonderfully light-footed original. Hurst just doesn't quite get the joke. Simultaneous release with the Back Bay Books paperback (Reviews, Jan. 8, 2007).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
In this wildly funny debut from former ad man Ferris, a group of copywriters and designers at a Chicago ad agency face layoffs at the end of the '90s boom. Indignation rises over the rightful owner of a particularly coveted chair ("We felt deceived"). Gonzo e-mailer Tom Mota quotes Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the midst of his tirades, desperately trying to retain a shred of integrity at a job that requires a ruthless attention to what will make people buy things. Jealousy toward the aloof and "inscrutable" middle manager Joe Pope spins out of control. Copywriter Chris Yop secretly returns to the office after he's laid off to prove his worth. Rumors that supervisor Lynn Mason has breast cancer inspire blood lust, remorse, compassion. Ferris has the downward-spiraling office down cold, and his use of the narrative "we" brilliantly conveys the collective fear, pettiness, idiocy and also humanity of high-level office drones as anxiety rises to a fever pitch. Only once does Ferris shift from the first person plural (for an extended fugue on Lynn's realization that she may be ill), and the perspective feels natural throughout. At once delightfully freakish and entirely credible, Ferris's cast makes a real impression. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A debut novel from an author whose short fiction has appeared in the Iowa Review, Best New American Voices 2005, and Prairie Schooner, this work depicts the offices and cubicles of a Chicago advertising agency located on the Magnificent Mile. The employees are quirky, neurotic, and self-involved, but the radical laws of the workplace force them together, and they rely on one another more than they care to admit. Through the anxiety and animosity of layoffs, missing chairs, and office pranks, their collective life story is always at the forefront of the narrative, evoking both great delight and emotional pain as we watch each character come to his or her own end. Ferris repeatedly pulls us in by capturing multiple conversations at once and methodically expanding the space between words with humorous, thoughtful insight to highlight details in those ordinary moments. Regardless of vocation, you know these people, and, what's worse, you see yourself in them. With so many books on office life, it's nice to see someone add fresh spark and originality to the subject. Nick Hornby praised this as "a terrific first novel," foreshadowing a positive public reception. Recommended for all public libraries.
—Stephen Morrow
Kirkus Reviews
This debut novel about life in a Chicago advertising agency succeeds as both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that band. Though Ferris only briefly invokes Catch-22, he transfers that novel's absurdist logic, insider's jargon and indelibly quirky characterizations to the business of brainstorming and creating advertising-or at least pretending to stay busy lest one be considered dispensable. After the breezy pacing of the opening chapters presents the cast as indiscriminately eccentric, the plot deepens and relationships become more complicated, with the individual eccentricities of the characters defining their humanity. During a downturn in business, people keep disappearing, either fired or dead. Fired is worse, especially for those who remain, because the fired often refuse to disappear. These coworkers know each other like no outsider can, yet generally have little idea what the lives of their fellow employees are like outside the cubicle. In fact, the novel rarely ventures beyond the cubicle and the conference room, making Ferris's ability to sustain narrative momentum all the more impressive. The narrator is an ingenious device, a nameless one who uses the third-person "we" to suggest that he (or she) might be any one of the office group. Yet since most or all within the office show that their perceptions are seriously skewed, the reader is never quite sure how much the narrator can be trusted. There's a crucial interlude, a chapter in which the "we" disappears, and a character who had seemed more like a caricature to those who work for her reveals her flesh-and-blood complexity and ultimately raises thenovel to a higher literary level. The funhouse mirror here reflects the office dynamic at its most petty and profound.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316016391
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 2/27/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 79,931
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris's first novel, Then We Came to the End, won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and was a National Book Award finalist. It has been translated into 24 languages. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, Prairie Schooner, and The Iowa Review. He lives in New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Then We Came To the End

A Novel
By Joshua Ferris

LITTLE, BROWN

Copyright © 2007 Joshua Ferris
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-01638-4


Chapter One

You Don't Know What's in My Heart

WE WERE FRACTIOUS AND overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. At least those of us who smoked had 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. Those who loved everyone were unanimously reviled. We loved free bagels in the morning. They happened all too infrequently. Our benefits were astonishing in comprehensiveness and quality of care. Sometimes we questioned whether they were worth it. We thought moving to India might be better, or going back to nursing school. Doing something with the handicapped or working with our hands. No one ever acted on these impulses, despite their daily, sometimes hourly contractions. Instead we met in conference rooms to discuss the issues of the day.

Ordinarily jobs came in and we completed them in a timely and professional manner. Sometimes fuckups did occur. Printing errors, transposed numbers. Our business was advertising and details were important. If the third number after the second hyphen in a client's toll-free number was a six instead of an eight, and if it went to print like that, and showed up in Time magazine, no one reading the ad could call now and order today. No matter they could go to the website, we still had to eat the price of the ad. Is this boring you yet? It bored us every day. Our boredom was ongoing, a collective boredom, and it would never die because we would never die.

Lynn Mason was dying. She was a partner in the agency. Dying? It was uncertain. She was in her early forties. Breast cancer. No one could identify exactly how everyone had come to know this fact. Was it a fact? Some people called it rumor. But in fact there was no such thing as rumor. There was fact, and there was what did not come up in conversation. Breast cancer was controllable if caught in the early stages but Lynn may have waited too long. The news of Lynn brought Frank Brizzolera to mind.

We recalled looking at Frank and thinking he had six months, tops. Old Brizz, we called him. He smoked like a fiend. He stood outside the building in the most inclement weather, absorbing Old Golds in nothing but a sweater vest. Then and only then, he looked indomitable. When he returned inside, nicotine stink preceded him as he walked down the hall, where it lingered long after he entered his office. He began to cough, and from our own offices we heard the working-up of solidified lung sediment. Some people put him on their Celebrity Death Watch every year because of the coughing, even though he wasn't an official celebrity. He knew it, too, he knew he was on death watch, and that certain wagering individuals would profit from his death. He knew it because he was one of us, and we knew everything.

We didn't know who was stealing things from other people's workstations. Always small items - postcards, framed photographs. We had our suspicions but no proof. We believed it was probably not for the loot so much as the excitement - the shoplifter's addictive kick, or maybe it was a pathological cry for help. Hank Neary, one of the agency's only black writers, asked, "Come on, now- who would want my travel toothbrush?"

We didn't know who was responsible for putting the sushi roll behind Joe Pope's bookshelf. The first couple of days Joe had no clue about the sushi. Then he started taking furtive sniffs at his pits, and holding the wall of his palm to his mouth to get blowback from his breath. By the end of the week, he was certain it wasn't him. We smelled it, too. Persistent, high in the nostrils, it became worse than a dying animal. Joe's gorge rose every time he entered his office. The following week the smell was so atrocious the building people got involved, hunting the office for what turned out to be a sunshine roll- tuna, whitefish, salmon, and sprouts. Mike Boroshansky, the chief of security, kept bringing his tie up to his nose, as if he were a real cop at the scene of a murder.

We thanked each other. It was customary after every exchange. Our thanks were never disingenuous or ironic. We said thanks for getting this done so quickly, thanks for putting in so much effort. We had a meeting and when a meeting was over, we said thank you to the meeting makers for having made the meeting. Very rarely did we say anything negative or derogatory about meetings. We all knew there was a good deal of pointlessness to nearly all the meetings and in fact one meeting out of every three or four was nearly perfectly without gain or purpose but many meetings revealed the one thing that was necessary and so we attended them and afterward we thanked each other.

Karen Woo always had something new to tell us and we hated her guts for it. She would start talking and our eyes would glaze over. Might it be true, as we sometimes feared on the commute home, that we were callous, unfeeling individuals, incapable of sympathy, and full of spite toward people for no reason other than their proximity and familiarity? We had these sudden revelations that employment, the daily nine-to-five, was driving us far from our better selves. Should we quit? Would that solve it? Or were those qualities innate, dooming us to nastiness and paucity of spirit? We hoped not.

Marcia Dwyer became famous for sending an e-mail to Genevieve Latko-Devine. Marcia often wrote to Genevieve after meetings. "It is really irritating to work with irritating people," she once wrote. There she ended it and waited for Genevieve's response. Usually when she got Genevieve's e-mail, instead of writing back, which would take too long - Marcia was an art director, not a writer-she would head down to Genevieve's office, close the door, and the two women would talk. The only thing bearable about the irritating event involving the irritating person was the thought of telling it all to Genevieve, who would understand better than anyone else. Marcia could have called her mother, her mother would have listened. She could have called one of her four brothers, any one of those South Side pipe-ends would have been more than happy to beat up the irritating person. But they would not have understood. They would have sympathized, but that was not the same thing. Genevieve would hardly need to nod for Marcia to know she was getting through. Did we not all understand the essential need for someone to understand? But the e-mail Marcia got back was not from Genevieve. It was from Jim Jackers. "Are you talking about me?" he wrote. Amber Ludwig wrote, "I'm not Genevieve." Benny Shassburger wrote, "I think you goofed." Tom Mota wrote, "Ha!" Marcia was mortified. She got sixty-five e-mails in two minutes. One from HR cautioned her against sending personal e-mails. Jim wrote a second time. "Can you please tell me - is it me, Marcia? Am I the irritating person you're talking about?"

Marcia wanted to eat Jim's heart because some mornings he shuffled up to the elevators and greeted us by saying, "What up, my niggas?" He meant it ironically in an effort to be funny, but he was just not the man to pull it off. It made us cringe, especially Marcia, especially if Hank was present.

In those days it wasn't rare for someone to push someone else down the hall really fast in a swivel chair. Games aside, we spent most of our time inside long silent pauses as we bent over our individual desks, working on some task at hand, lost to it - until Benny, bored, came and stood in the doorway. "What are you up to?" he'd ask.

It could have been any of us. "Working" was the usual reply. Then Benny would tap his topaz class ring on the doorway and drift away.

How we hated our coffee mugs! our mouse pads, our desk clocks, our daily calendars, the contents of our desk drawers. Even the photos of our loved ones taped to our computer monitors for uplift and support turned into cloying reminders of time served. But when we got a new office, a bigger office, and we brought everything with us into the new office, how we loved everything all over again, and thought hard about where to place things, and looked with satisfaction at the end of the day at how well our old things looked in this new, improved, important space. There was no doubt in our minds just then that we had made all the right decisions, whereas most days we were men and women of two minds. Everywhere you looked, in the hallways and bathrooms, the coffee bar and cafeteria, the lobbies and the print stations, there we were with our two minds.

There seemed to be only the one electric pencil sharpener in the whole damn place.

We didn't have much patience for cynics. Everyone was a cynic at one point or another but it did us little good to bemoan our unbelievable fortunes. At the national level things had worked out pretty well in our favor and entrepreneurial cash was easy to come by. Cars available for domestic purchase, cars that could barely fit in our driveways, had a martial appeal, a promise that, once inside them, no harm would come to our children. It was IPO this and IPO that. Everyone knew a banker, too. And how lovely it was, a bike ride around the forest preserve on a Sunday in May with our mountain bikes, water bottles, and safety helmets. Crime was at an all-time low and we heard accounts of former welfare recipients holding steady jobs. New hair products were being introduced into the marketplace every day and the glass shelves of our stylists were stocked with tidy rows of them, which we eyed in the mirror as we made small talk, each of us certain, there's one up there just for me. Still, some of us had a hard time finding boyfriends. Some of us had a hard time fucking our wives.

Some days we met in the kitchen on sixty to eat lunch. There was only room for eight at the table. If all the seats were full, Jim Jackers would have to eat his sandwich from the sink and try to engage from over in that direction. It was fortunate for us in that he could pass us a spoon or a packet of salt if we needed it.

"It is really irritating," Tom Mota said to the table, "to work with irritating people."

"Screw you, Tom," Marcia replied. Headhunters hounded us. They plied us with promises of better titles and increases in pay. Some of us went but most of us stayed. We liked our prospects where we were and didn't care for the hassle of meeting new people. It had taken us a while to familiarize ourselves and to feel comfortable. First day on the job, names went in one ear and out the other. One minute you were being introduced to a guy with a head of fiery red hair and fair skin crawling with freckles, and before you knew it you had moved on to someone new and then someone after that. A few weeks would go by, gradually you'd start to put the name to the face, and one day it just clicked, to be wedged there forever: the eager redhead's name was Jim Jackers. There was no more confusing him with "Benny Shassburger" whose name you tended to see on e-mails and handouts but hadn't come to recognize yet as the slightly heavyset, dough-faced Jewish guy with the corkscrew curls and quick laugh. So many people! So many body types, hair colors, fashion statements.

Marcia Dwyer's hair was stuck in the eighties. She listened to terrible music, bands we had outgrown in the eleventh grade. Some of us had never even heard of the music she listened to, and it was inconceivable that she could enjoy such noise. Others of us didn't like music at all, some preferred talk radio, and there was a large contingent that kept their radios tuned to the oldies station. After everyone went home for the night, after we all fell asleep and the city dimmed, oldies continued to play inside the abandoned office. Picture it - only a parallelogram of light in the doorway. A happy tune by the Drifters issuing in the dark at two, three o'clock in the morning, when elsewhere murders were taking place, drug deals, unspeakable assaults. Crime was down, but it had yet to be rendered obsolete. In the mornings, our favorite DJs were back on, playing our favorite oldies. Most of us ate the crumb toppings first and then the rest of the muffin. They were the same songs that would play throughout a nuclear winter.

We had visceral, rich memories of dull, interminable hours. Then a day would pass in perfect harmony with our projects, our family members, and our coworkers, and we couldn't believe we were getting paid for this. We decided to celebrate with wine at dinner. Some of us liked one restaurant in particular while others spread out across the city, sampling and reviewing. We were foxes and hedgehogs that way. It was vitally important to Karen Woo that she be the first to know of a new restaurant. If someone mentioned a new restaurant Karen didn't know about, you could bet your bottom dollar that Karen would be there that very night, sampling and reviewing, and when she came in the next morning, she told us (those of us who didn't know about the other person's knowing about the new restaurant) about the new restaurant she'd just been to, how great it was, and how we all had to go there. Those of us who followed Karen's suggestion gave the same advice to those of us who hadn't heard Karen's suggestion, and soon we were all running into one another at the new restaurant. By then Karen wouldn't be caught dead there.

Early in the time of balanced budgets and the remarkable rise of the NASDAQ we were given polo shirts of quality cotton with the agency's logo stitched on the left breast. The shirt was for some team event and everyone wore it out of company pride. After the event was over, it was uncommon to see anyone wearing that polo again - not because we had lost our company pride, but because it was vaguely embarrassing to be seen wearing something everyone knew had been given to you for free. After all, our portfolios were stuffed with NASDAQ offerings and if our parents had only been able to buy us outfits from Sears, we could now afford Brooks Brothers and had no need for free shirts. We gave them to the Goodwill or they languished in our drawers or we put them on to mow the lawn. A few years later, Tom Mota exhumed his companypride polo from some box of clothes under his bed. Likely he found it when the Mota chattels were being divided up by order of a judge. He wore it to work. He had worn the polo along with the rest of us on that polo-wearing day, but his life had changed dramatically since then and we thought it was an indication of where his head was at that he didn't mind being seen in a shirt most of us used to wash our cars. It really was a very handy cotton. Then Tom wore the same shirt the next day. We wondered where he was sleeping. On the third day, we were concerned about his showering. When Tom passed an entire week in the same polo, we expected it to give off an odor. But he must have been washing it, and we pictured him bare-chested at the Laundromat watching his one polo turn in the dryer, because his wife wouldn't let him return to his Naperville home.

By the end of the month, we figured out finally it had nothing to do with Tom's divorce. Thirty straight days in the same corporate polo - it was the beginning of Tom's campaign of agitation.

"You ever going to change out of it?" asked Benny. "I love this shirt. I want to be buried in it." "Would you take mine, at least, so you can switch off?" "I would love that," said Tom.

So Benny gave Tom his polo, but Tom didn't use it to switch off. Instead he wore Benny's on top of his own. Two polos, one under the other. He approached the rest of us and solicited our polos as well. Jim Jackers grasped at any opportunity to ingratiate himself, and soon Tom was walking around in three polos.

"Lynn Mason's starting to ask questions," said Benny. "Company pride," said Tom. "But three at a time?"

"You don't know what's in my heart," said Tom, pounding his fist against the corporate logo three times. "Company pride."

Some days green was on top, some days red, some days blue. Later we found out he was the one responsible for taping the sunshine roll to the back of Joe's bookshelf. He was responsible for many things, including changing everyone's radio stations, making pornographic screensavers, and leaving his seed on the floor of the men's rooms on sixty and sixty-one. We knew he was responsible because once he was laid off, the radios went unmolested and the custodians no longer complained to management.

It was the era of take-ones and tchotchkes. The world was flush with Internet cash and we got our fair share of it. It was our position that logo design was every bit as important as product performance and distribution systems. "Wicked cool" were the words we used to describe our logo designs. "Bush league" were the words we used to describe the logo designs of other agencies - unless it was a really well-designed logo, in which case we bowed down before it, much like the ancient Mayans did their pagan gods. We, too, thought it would never end.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Then We Came To the End by Joshua Ferris Copyright © 2007 by Joshua Ferris. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 140 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 140 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Don't even bother!

    If you can get through the first fifty pages you have accomplished something no other person has

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    9 to 5

    This book won all kinds of awards, and deservedly so. You'll want to give it to everyone you know who works in an office. Daring to write in the second person (we), Ferris paints a nuanced portrait of a large cast of characters working in an ad agency at the moment the layoffs begin. The novel begins like this: "We were fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. At least those of us who smoked had something to look forward to at ten-fifteen. Most of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals. ... " Either he's got you from the get-go, or this isn't the novel for you. Over the course of the book, we meet a range of characters with very real problems (one has breast cancer; one has a big inferiority complex; one has lost her daughter; etc.) and the mood deepens; but nearly all of the action of the book is filtered through the unwavering voice of the "we," that bizarre nameless mob made real by pitch-perfect details, and made bearable by Ferris's wonderful dry wit. I can't wait for his next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    So real and So funny

    I think this is one of the best books around. It was funny and so realistic. Fans of "The Office" will love the characters and the off beat things that take place in this office. The writing was great. It was great even when I re-read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Unique voice - today's everyman's/everywoman's work life.

    Ferris writes in such a way that he combines anonymity with an intimate view of each character. In a way, this truly reflects the feeling of an office environment. No one knows anyone, yet everyone knows everything. A fresh voice, but it is a little surface-level. Hopefully there is another, meatier novel soon to be born from Joshua Ferris's mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2007

    Entertaing period

    I approached this book assuming I would be on the floor laughing over comical office pranks. I was mistaken. Basically you read about naive business men/women in an office discussing their most uneventful drama and how such miniscule events are so important to their daily lives. Not to mention the fact that the story is written relatively poorly and with sporadic ordering. In then end I read it to finish it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    Don't waste your time.

    I was very disappointed after reading the reviews.
    I felt like I had wasted time reading this nonsense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Good and Funny

    For those who have worked through a downsizing this is a great read. If you haven' t, it will let you know how it feels. Quirky and somehow funny despite the sadness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    Enjoyable book

    The narration makes you become part of this group of coworkers. Funny, sad, nostalgic...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    not good

    just simply not a good book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Recommended - A Masterful Mess

    The cover of this book as a series of sticky notes is perfect! I feel like Ferris just wrote out a bunch of scenarios on sticky notes, threw them in the air, and then had the book follow that random order. YET, in the middle of the random, conversational collection of stories about an advertising firm slowly going down the drain, there are some great truths about what it is like to work, especially in a depressed economy, and what life is like before and after you are forcefully pushed out of a job. The characters are fantastically written, the situations are poignant - you will laugh and cry. A difficult read in places, and the timeline is scattered at best, but this is a great book if you need some thought-provoking commiseration about your work place!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Quirky but missing something

    I bought this book on a whim. I am a huge fan of The Office and it seemed this book would contain the same type of humor. I was disappointed because I was never really able to get into the book. I wanted to finish it because I kept waiting for the storyline to go somewhere. Instead, it just kept spinning out of control. The writing was really the only good part about the book. Joshua Ferris has a very whitty and quirky way with words that did make me laugh aloud a few times.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    This book is great!

    I loved reading this book. It is long, but I read it very quickly, because I was so engrossed in the story and characters. If you like office gossip and the quirkiness of office relationships, you will love this book. It was the best book I have read in a while. It was "light" enough to be an escape from my normal life. This book is totally deserving of the awards and accolades it has received. I highly recommend this book! I am looking forward to reading more novels by Joshua Ferris. Buy this - you won't be disappointed, I promise. A+++++

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2010

    Laugh-Out-Loud Funny!

    Anyone who has worked in an office setting will appreciate the truthfulness in the absurd work-a-day world Ferris describes. For so many of us, work is everything and the people in the office are a huge part of our lives... until they're not. Office politics, office romances, where you sit at the conference room table -- it all seems so important and yet it doesn't take much to be able to take a step back and realize how ridiculous it is. But the real beauty of the book is that the characters aren't just caricatures, but real, three-dimensional people the reader comes to care about.

    I've never read a book quite like this one - but if you like the Dunder Mifflin folks in the TV show "The Office," I can guarantee you'll like "Then We Came to the End," too.

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    Worse than Twilight!!!

    I used to think Twilight was the worst book in the world, until I started, yes "started", reading this. When I first saw this one at Costco, I thought it would have been a lot like The Office or close to it, but I was horribly wrong. This book was lame and not at all original or funny. I didn't finish it, I hardly got past page 50.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    Then We Came To the End

    I found the writing style to be laborious and confusing. The book didn't grab my interest until around the middle when it talked about the boss' struggle with breast cancer. It's definitely not a funny book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2009

    It could happen to us too

    Entertaining yet hits home given today's economic realities. Ferris is sharp, funny and witty and could be talking about anyone of our lives.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Everyone should read this book at least once!!!

    THIS BOOK is amazing. IT is about this advertising agency that is on the downhill slide, but it ressembles every workplace in the entire world! There are not enough adjectives to describe how good this book is. For those of your that are job searching or in danger of being laid off, this relates to your situation with humor. The characters in this book dish out a little humor and it is helpful with dealing with certain situations.

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  • Posted July 21, 2009

    a really good read

    i don't usually read contemporary fiction but i was thoroughly surprised by this book and so glad that i picked it up. i'm a grad student who studies late 19th & 20th century british and anglophone/postcolonial literature, and as my brother has pointed out to me, i rarely read anything written by an american author. but this book was fantastic and refreshing and amazingly insightful into the office/cube environment as well as the fear that hangs over everyone when layoffs are occurring and you are wondering if you will be next, and you are also wondering why one person gets laid off and another one doesn't. this book is laugh out loud funny, but at the same time, it has the power to tug on your heart strings and evoke an emotion that you hadn't expected to feel. after finishing the book i sat and thought about it for a long time. it's one of those books that my best friend and i would talk about for at least an hour over coffee and discuss our reactions. it's that thought-provoking. so if you are looking for a book that is honest and will actually make you think make you feel, and make you laugh, pick up this book. but i must warn you that there is free usage of four letter words so if that turns you off don't pick this up. i have recommended this book to several of my friends and i don't think you'll be sorry if you give it a chance.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    dreaded office life...

    didn't think this story would be sooo funny. love the writing style, the characters with their many layers, the one-liners, such a good read.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Not the book for me.

    This book is written in a choppy, fragmented style that treats the reader as if they were on a raft in turbulent waters. The resulting nausea leaves the reader lethargic, flipping to the back of the book to see how many pages are left. It is important to finish the book because money doesn't grow on trees.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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