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Then We Came to the End

by Joshua Ferris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,1462132,034 (3.51)182
This wickedly funny, big-hearted novel about life in the office signals the arrival of a gloriously talented new writer.The characters in THEN WE CAME TO THE END cope with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. By day they compete for the best office furniture left behind and try to make sense of the mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that is their only remaining "work."… (more)
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» See also 182 mentions

English (211)  Italian (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
Mad frantic world of the pre crash yuppie office life in advertising agency. Complex characters so somethimes hard to follow plot.
  MarilynKinnon | Sep 13, 2020 |
This meandering tale of a group of co-workers who spend more time gossiping about one another than they do working, even in the face of an economic downturn, makes up in sheer style what it might lack in plot.

Ferris has assembled a cast of characters with the same kind of goofiness that pervaded “The Office” and occasionally even rings with the same tone of “M*A*S*H” or "Catch-22", but without the blood. Even as the reader may be allowed a bit of impatience at the juvenile hijinks of the workplace, anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the petty frustrations and the ego-driven conflicts. A continuing thread dealing with the poaching of office equipment from recently-vacated cubicles is probably the funniest motif in the book; many of the other situations actually depend on an essential sadness that pervades cubicle-land.

Most of the book is written from an unusual first-person plural viewpoint: “When someone quit, we couldn’t believe it.” “We wanted to die looking stupid in front of Lynn, but we didn’t mind it in front of Joe.” The single exception is a third-person chapter in the midst of all this middle-school nattering in which a character faces the prospect of a looming surgery that is terrifying to her.

“The Thing to Do and the Place to Be” could easily be a stand-alone short story, and one could entertain the notion that the rest of the novel actually sprang up to accompany it. Powerful and frightening, it’s something that will stick with the reader for a long time, particularly if they have ever found themselves at a similar crossroads.

Ferris wraps all this up with a bittersweet coda set at a time when the team has gone their separate ways. Some questions are answered – a few with borderline unbelievable resolutions -- while others are allowed to play out unresolved.

Kind of like life, actually. ( )
2 vote LyndaInOregon | Aug 21, 2020 |
Pretty good, but basically a New Yorker short story blown out to 385 pages. ( )
  AldusManutius | Jul 5, 2020 |
I'm going to keep this short. I liked the book pretty well and liked it quite a lot at the beginning. However, the initial cleverness became . . . borderline stale, I suppose would be the best way for me to describe it. I never quit liking it entirely, but it started to drag.

Luckily, there is a middle section mentioned in other reviews--it's obvious when you read it--that was quite engaging. And it popped up at the perfect time, when I really was starting to feel like the story was grinding to a halt, and it pulled me back into things and was compelling enough to push me through to the end. Which I also liked.

So overall, I'm giving it a strong three stars. But ultimately, I think Ferris's second book, The Unnamed, is better. I read that first and I have to say that reading Then We Came To The End really showed how far forward Ferris jumped with his second novel. This novel was entertaining and showed Ferris's promise, but The Unnamed really manifests that promise. Check it out if you enjoyed this book. ( )
  joel.caris | Jun 26, 2020 |
I almost gave up on this after the first 50 pages or so. At that point, it just reminded me of all the crap I remembered from 30 years of working for companies in tech industry (yes, its just as bad as everywhere else. Ping pong tables and "free" sushi bars don't really make a difference). But I persevered, much to my benefit. The author is able to expose the real humanity of the characters. That humanity can be disturbing, or tragic, or just plain average. In any case, its well worth the read to see an author perform their craft with such skill. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
It is a brave author who embeds the rationale for writing his novel into the novel itself. But 70 pages into Joshua Ferris’s first novel, set in a white-collar office, we meet Hank Neary, an advertising copywriter writing his first novel, set in a white-collar office. Ferris has the good sense to make Neary’s earnest project seem slightly ridiculous. Neary describes his book as “small and angry.” His co-workers tactfully suggest more appealing topics. He rejects them. “The fact that we spend most of our lives at work, that interests me,” he says. “A small, angry book about work,” his colleagues think. “There was a fun read on the beach.”

“Then We Came to the End,” it turns out, is neither small nor angry, but expansive, great-hearted and acidly funny. It is set at the turn of the current century, when the implosion of the dot-com economy is claiming collateral victims down the fluorescent-paneled halls of a Chicago advertising firm. Clients are fleeing, projects are drying up and management is chucking human ballast from the listing corporate balloon. The layoffs come piecemeal, without warning and — in keeping with good, brutal, heinie-covering legal practice — with no rationale as to why any person was let go. . . .
added by PLReader | editNY Times, JAMES PONIEWOZIK (Mar 18, 2007)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joshua Ferrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It is not the chief disgrace in the world, not to be a unit;–not to be reckoned one character;–not to yield that particular fruit which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which we belong...
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dedication
To Elizabeth
First words
We are fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise.
Quotations
"These stupid enduring artifacts–a bar, a song–that stick around after the love has cast his heart into the sea, they are solace and agony both. She is drawn toward them for the promise of renewal, but the main experience is a deepening of the woe."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

This wickedly funny, big-hearted novel about life in the office signals the arrival of a gloriously talented new writer.The characters in THEN WE CAME TO THE END cope with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. By day they compete for the best office furniture left behind and try to make sense of the mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that is their only remaining "work."

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Book description
This novel chronicles the decline of a Chicago ad office after the dot-com bust through the collective eyes of its workers.
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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