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Then We Came to the End: A Novel Hardcover – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316016381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316016384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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.

Customer Reviews

It is effortlessly identifiable, a real story with real characters.
B. Neblock
Without getting in too deep, or analyzing the book too much, you get to know and like like the characters.
Ehtesham Uddin
Too many characters, not enough plot, one just stopped caring about these people by the end.
brjoro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

360 of 391 people found the following review helpful By David Kusumoto on 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 By Retired Reader on 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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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Constance Michener on 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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68 of 81 people found the following review helpful By R. Howell on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
No matter how much we love the established names, the Roths, the Pynchons, the McCarthy's, nothing is quite so exciting as a new author. With that excitement, however, comes the peril of disappointment. Ferris does not disappoint. One gets the feeling upon reading this book that a new but permanent voice is being added to the American literary scene, and that we are lucky to have a book like this on our shelves.

Yes, it is written in the first-person plural, from the perspective of an ad agency, and yes it is laugh-out-loud funny. But the style is no gimmick--it reinforces the subtle cultural commentary offered by the book: a message leavened by the humor and delivered with the lightest of touches. This book is the full package. Ignore it at your own risk.
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