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Then We Came to the End: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Joshua Ferris
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (383 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.74
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group
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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month Spotlight Title, April 2007: It's 2001. The dot-com bubble has burst and rolling layoffs have hit an unnamed Chicago advertising firm sending employees into an escalating siege mentality as their numbers dwindle. As a parade of employees depart, bankers boxes filled with their personal effects, those left behind raid their fallen comrades' offices, sifting through the detritus for the errant desk lamp or Aeron chair. Written with confidence in the tricky-to-pull-off first-person plural, the collective fishbowl perspective of the "we" voice nails the dynamics of cubicle culture--the deadlines, the gossip, the elaborate pranks to break the boredom, the joy of discovering free food in the breakroom. Arch, achingly funny, and surprisingly heartfelt, it's a view of how your work becomes a symbiotic part of your life. A dysfunctional family of misfits forced together and fondly remembered as it falls apart. Praised as "the Catch-22 of the business world" and "The Office meets Kafka," I'm happy to report that Joshua Ferris's brilliant debut lives up to every ounce of pre-publication hype and instantly became one of my favorite books of the year. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 984 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (March 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000Q80T02
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,152 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
370 of 401 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is "Then We Came To The End" trying to say? April 20, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Despite widespread critical acclaim, this book has gotten mixed reviews from customers.

I understand it, and people who hated it aren't wrong. I'd like to address these criticisms later, so please stick with me.

The positive reviews I've read about "Then We Came To The End" are mostly spot-on -- but without giving it away, they don't consistently convey WHY this amusing, touching and ultimately tender book soars - at least for me.

It's the ending.

The last 20 pages of Joshua Ferris's book twisted and turned me in every direction. But it's THE VERY LAST LINE -- (DON'T CHEAT) -- that catapulted me into the universe with the most glorious twist of all.

Many writers searching for something to leave behind that feels ironic or profound -- I'm sorry -- in my view, they just don't know how to end their books. I say this as a consumer who's a voracious reader. Their last pages feel quietly pretentious -- or a little too contemplative or optimistic. Even great literature - especially prize-winning literature - can be so tortuous in construction or over-reaching in their efforts to convey some grand message -- that they feel like work, with sentences so mind-numbing that you need a dictionary and a level of concentration akin to taking a bar exam.

"Then We Came To The End" may not be considered great literature, but it's euphoric. It's wonderful. It underscores that nebulous "thing" that makes the office dull and robotic -- but also vital and vibrant, essential to our lives. The book makes me question, admire and dismiss -- all at once -- why I put up with so much " s***," why I find great satisfaction in my work on one day and why I hate everything the next.
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mornings without Promise. April 6, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent first novel about the employees of that most storied of institutions, an advertising agency. It is simultaneously touching, amusing, and engrossing. It is not, however, the hilarious laugh riot or biting satire that some would claim. Perhaps the sprit of the novel was best summed up in its second sentence, "Our mornings lacked promise." This is a story related by an anonymous narrator about a group of individuals working on the creative staff of a nameless mid-sized Chicago ad agency and it is entirely office centric. The reader sees the people as one would see one's own co-workers in an office setting with only occasional references to homes and families.

As the 21st Century begins, the billings of the agency decline precipitously and being fired or fear of being fired soon becomes a dark undercurrent that runs through everything else that happens in offices and cubicles of the agency's creative staff. As the novel progresses one learns more and more about the quirks and mannerism these hapless folks. Their humanity becomes quite real. If the reader will allow it, you can find yourself actually caring about the individuals that the narrator tells you about. Those of us that are or were knowledge workers will have a haunting sense of familiarity about the people and situations described in this book.

Joshua Ferris has an ear for dialogue and an understanding of emotions that is quite impressive. This reviewer likes his style and the way he structured this novel.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book February 22, 2007
Format:Hardcover
An office dalliance leads to impending maternity. A coworker mourns her child's death. A corporate best-girl refuses to face issues of her own mortality until she finds herself turning from it minute by minute. A shattered individual shares the Emerson quotes that keep his quirkily heroic persona together with whomever he sees may be similarly troubled. Another tries to make his way free of friendship, turning away from even admitting witness of non-official office events.

Meanwhile, the rest of the office gets together to kill time, compete for first-discovery rights on information, try to make sense of the world through group consensus, and keep their creative saws sharpened in the dot-com downturn.

I love Then We Came to the End. It is a wonderfully sympathetic novel of work relationships. Just what should "work" mean to a person? What attachments, what level of attachments, what kind of caring, is normal on the job? And isn't it almost too painfully obvious how frail and silly anyone we know is, really? This is a wonderfully real take on office life, exhibiting a refreshingly well-grounded, sympathetic view of multiple office characters.

The narration exhibits a kind of sympathetic ambivalence in its examination of a working social group. In a world where so many colorful characters are written off as "crazy," Ferris patiently gets to motives. The narrator, written in first-person plural, thinks and feels the same as thinking people assessing confusing situations in this modern world. One can feel admiration and jealousy at once, one can cop to the noble and the prurient.

It's a fine examination of what people think and do; and what it means to take action; what it means to witness and to participate.

[...]
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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Thought I'd Never Get To The End! August 1, 2008
Format:Paperback
Is Joshua Ferris a terrible writer? Of course not. Are the people who loved this book insane? Far from it! And not only do I heartily admire Mr. Ferris for completing a novel and getting it published - something I probably will never achieve for myself - I also respect anyone who could finish this book and find an inspiring message within. Reviews are subjective, and all I can say is that I really tried to like this book, but after reading page after page, word after word, my will to live slowly drained from my body, and my inner voice screamed, "Just Give Up Already!" But I didn't give up. But I didn't enjoy it either. I kept waiting for the agony to lessen and the uplifting experience to begin. You know it's bad (or should I say, WE know it's bad) when there's only 30 pages to go, and we still have to force ourselves to pick it up. Inside joke there! See I was paying attention. So my advice to anyone who's made it halfway through this book and loves it, is to keep going because you'll probably love it even more. But if you get to the halfway point and start debating whether to finish the whole thing, or to move on - MOVE ON! Really. Cause if you don't like it by page 190, you won't like it by page 385. Things I didn't like: The characters were so forgettable, that I think even the author had trouble keeping them straight, which may explain why he kept referring to them by their first and last names, even in dialogue. Even though none of the (numerous) characters shared a first name. I thought that was completely unrealistic. Whoever refers to their co-workers by first and last name in speech? "Oh Martha Jeffers, could you go ask Chris McDonald over there if he has the reports for Fergus Magnusson? Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It had some funny parts, because if you've ever worked in "cubicle ...
I'm not exactly sure what to say about this book. It had some funny parts, because if you've ever worked in "cubicle land", you can identify with some of the characters and... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Marc A. Baldwin
1.0 out of 5 stars If only we made it to the end
Based on reviews from reputable sources from Stephen King to The New Yorker, I took a chance on Joshua Ferris's "Then We Came To The End. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shadowrun
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
See my Comments about The Unnamed Joshua Ferris by the Same Author
Published 1 month ago by Richard A. Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time
Who knew a book on typical, if over-the-top, office drama could be so enthralling? Ferris apparently, and he nails it.
Published 1 month ago by Bryan Redding
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book I've Read Three Times
I bought this book several years ago and it's one of the few books I can say I've read three times. It takes you on a journey where you are following along the lives of workers in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nicole P.
5.0 out of 5 stars "We" are dazzled
Then We Came to the End, by Josh Ferris—I read the mixed reviews and then it struck me that mixed reviews may just be the type of book I'm drawn to—hit or miss. Read more
Published 2 months ago by JulieAnn Carter-Winward
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good first novel
Ferris is great. This book is, at times, very funny and terribly sad. Then We Came to the End is an interesting look at the way we live and work.
Published 2 months ago by James A Davidsmeyer
3.0 out of 5 stars Who's chair is that?
It gets as tedious as the cubic life it explores but it has its like moments.
Light reading and good guide for switching cubic furniture about. Ends with a sigh.
Published 3 months ago by northshore mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Life as an office worker
This book is at once funny, touching, very human and absolutely accurate in it's portrayal of a worker's life as a cog in the machine that's the functioning office environment. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Binky McGee
2.0 out of 5 stars Reading Fatigue
I struggled with this book, putting it down and finally rereading only one reviewer who gave it 5 stars. So I fought on until I came to the end. Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. McDonald
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More About the Author

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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What happened to Joe Pope?
I think the fact that no one knows what happened to Joe Pope (including the narrator(s) and the reader) was supposed to underscore the poignancy of how disconnected he is from the group and all groups. I actually teared up when I realized no one had kept track of the guy and now he was simply... Read More
Jan 31, 2008 by Lectrice |  See all 21 posts
Then they came to the end......Thank god.....
And then their fascinatingly pointless conversation came to an end.
Sep 11, 2009 by Dan Midge |  See all 9 posts
What Chicago agencies did Ferris work for? Be the first to reply
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