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.