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Then We Came to the End: A Novel Paperback – February 26, 2008

388 customer reviews

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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031601639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316016391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (388 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

374 of 405 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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67 of 79 people found the following review helpful By T. Stevens on 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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