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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Then We Came to the End: A Novel

by

Then We Came to the End: A Novel Cover

 

Awards

The Rooster 2008 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

2008 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award
National Book Award Finalist

Staff Pick

Then We Came to the End tells the story of an ad agency in decline, circa 2001. "We had a toy client, a car client, a long-distance carrier and a pet store," readers are told. We. Ferris uses the first person plural to present the agency's collective voice in the midst of ongoing layoffs. It's an audacious narrative gimmick that could easily collapse, and yet it never does.

Nick Hornby describes the novel as "The Office meets Kafka. It's Seinfeld rewritten by Donald Barthelme." Me, I was reminded by particular scenes and motifs of Donald Antrim and Don DeLillo, but so many comparisons will only obscure the fact that Ferris has concocted something truly original. Splice it any way you like, Then We Came to the End was my favorite book of the year.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"[A] very funny debut novel....Set at a Chicago ad agency at the turn of the century, Ferris's novel is for anyone who chuckles over Dilbert, can recite lines from Office Space, or has an appointment on Thursday nights with The Office. Then We Came to the End is a vicious sendup of cubicle culture that somehow manages not to lose sight of its characters' humanity." Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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."

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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Hilarious in a Catch-22 way, but with an undercurrent of sadness that works counterpoint to all the hilarity." Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"This debut novel about life in a Chicago advertising agency succeeds as both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that band." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The Office meets Kafka. It's Seinfeld rewritten by Donald Barthelme. It's Office Space reimagined by Nicholson....[U]nderneath the politicking and the sackings and the petty jealousies you can hear something else: the sound of our lives (that collective pronoun again) ticking away." Nick Hornby, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt

Review:

"Ferris' writing displays a strong descriptive flair, but the greatest asset of Then We Came to the End is the nuance of its narrative voice, which has the gossipy warmth and seeming closeness of a conspiratorial co-worker leaning over a partition to impart the latest rumor." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Brilliant and incredibly funny... An insightful, expansive, and often hilarious story, a novel so complex it may well deserve Jim Shepard's assessment: 'the Catch-22 of the business world.'" Maud Newton, Newsday

Review:

"[W]hat looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of workplace culture is revealed upon closer inspection to be a very serious novel about, well, America. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Joshua Ferris' brilliant and incredibly funny debut novel...lays bare the strange interconnectedness of human cogs in the corporate machine." Newsday

Review:

"A savagely funny yet kind-hearted tale of office life... You won't find a sharper portrait of the dislocated camaraderie that's born of sitting elbow to elbow with people you'd ordinarily cross the street to avoid." The Observer

Review:

"Then We Came to the End is that rare novel that feels absolutely contemporary, and that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent." Time

Review:

"Ferris' motley officemates fixate, often hilariously, on furniture, practical jokes, and whether or not their boss does, in fact, have cancer....I would've enjoyed the novel a lot more had it been a hundred pages shorter. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"With so many books on office life, it's nice to see someone add fresh spark and originality to the subject. Nick Hornby praised this as 'a terrific first novel,' foreshadowing a positive public reception." Library Journal

Review:

"This debut novel about life in a Chicago advertising agency succeeds as both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that band." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is a family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.

About the Author

Joshua Ferris received a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Iowa and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Best New American Voices 2005, and Prairie Schooner. He was born in Danville, Illinois, grew up in Key West, and now lives in Brooklyn.

Interview

Read the Powells.com Interview with Joshua Ferris

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Deborah Fochler, February 12, 2010 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
This is one of the books, I almost didnt read but so thankful I did. A friend of mine was reading it in the doctors office and literally laughing out loud. People were looking and I was getting a little embarrassed. After a couple of minutes a lady asked her about the book
and she related that she lost her job and her husband gave her the book to help her find the "humor' in it. He's a firm believer in there's humor in every situation - not so sure I agree but... When she finished the book she passed it to me. Now, I get it - do not read unless you're in a place to laugh out loud. You can not help it. This book is hysterical. Yet, the subject is no laughing matter. Put people in a situation they cant control, that their lives and way of living depends on and not tell them what is going on - you will get absurdity and craziness. This book is insightful and just a delight. I am so glad my friend embarrassed me.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)
DeniseB, February 5, 2010 (view all comments by DeniseB)
So funny I was laughing out loud! Highly relatable, most of these things have happened to you or you know exactly what he is talking about. The ending is more serious but very good. Serial numbers on chairs - hilarious! A great pick-me-up book!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
C from KC, January 19, 2010 (view all comments by C from KC)
I've been hoping to find an insightful story about the sometime ridiculous, the sometime discouraging and the (surprisingly) frequent joy of the modern corprorate workplace. No matter how we feel about corporate life(and it is too complicated and encompassing to feel just one way about it) many of us spend much of our life in the midst of it.

Joshua Ferris has done a fantastic job of capturing today's corporate culture, where the characters struggle to maintain their dignity in the middle of downturns and the chaotic fallout of those downturns. Characters resonate with authenticity and the situations vary between conjuring feelings of dread and prompting a knowing head nod and a mumbled "you go.." bit of encouragement. And best of all Ferris' book shows us that in some cases, as in real life, there are some who realize it is beter to care more about one another than our goofy jobs.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780316016391
Author:
Ferris, Joshua
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Clerks
Subject:
Illinois
Subject:
Chicago (Ill.)
Subject:
Clerks - Illinois - Chicago
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Reprint ed.
Publication Date:
February 2008
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Then We Came to the End: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316016391 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Then We Came to the End tells the story of an ad agency in decline, circa 2001. "We had a toy client, a car client, a long-distance carrier and a pet store," readers are told. We. Ferris uses the first person plural to present the agency's collective voice in the midst of ongoing layoffs. It's an audacious narrative gimmick that could easily collapse, and yet it never does.

Nick Hornby describes the novel as "The Office meets Kafka. It's Seinfeld rewritten by Donald Barthelme." Me, I was reminded by particular scenes and motifs of Donald Antrim and Don DeLillo, but so many comparisons will only obscure the fact that Ferris has concocted something truly original. Splice it any way you like, Then We Came to the End was my favorite book of the year.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "[A] very funny debut novel....Set at a Chicago ad agency at the turn of the century, Ferris's novel is for anyone who chuckles over Dilbert, can recite lines from Office Space, or has an appointment on Thursday nights with The Office. Then We Came to the End is a vicious sendup of cubicle culture that somehow manages not to lose sight of its characters' humanity." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review" by , "Hilarious in a Catch-22 way, but with an undercurrent of sadness that works counterpoint to all the hilarity."
"Review" by , "This debut novel about life in a Chicago advertising agency succeeds as both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that band."
"Review" by , "The Office meets Kafka. It's Seinfeld rewritten by Donald Barthelme. It's Office Space reimagined by Nicholson....[U]nderneath the politicking and the sackings and the petty jealousies you can hear something else: the sound of our lives (that collective pronoun again) ticking away."
"Review" by , "Ferris' writing displays a strong descriptive flair, but the greatest asset of Then We Came to the End is the nuance of its narrative voice, which has the gossipy warmth and seeming closeness of a conspiratorial co-worker leaning over a partition to impart the latest rumor."
"Review" by , "Brilliant and incredibly funny... An insightful, expansive, and often hilarious story, a novel so complex it may well deserve Jim Shepard's assessment: 'the Catch-22 of the business world.'"
"Review" by , "[W]hat looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of workplace culture is revealed upon closer inspection to be a very serious novel about, well, America. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel."
"Review" by , "Joshua Ferris' brilliant and incredibly funny debut novel...lays bare the strange interconnectedness of human cogs in the corporate machine."
"Review" by , "A savagely funny yet kind-hearted tale of office life... You won't find a sharper portrait of the dislocated camaraderie that's born of sitting elbow to elbow with people you'd ordinarily cross the street to avoid."
"Review" by , "Then We Came to the End is that rare novel that feels absolutely contemporary, and that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent."
"Review" by , "Ferris' motley officemates fixate, often hilariously, on furniture, practical jokes, and whether or not their boss does, in fact, have cancer....I would've enjoyed the novel a lot more had it been a hundred pages shorter. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "With so many books on office life, it's nice to see someone add fresh spark and originality to the subject. Nick Hornby praised this as 'a terrific first novel,' foreshadowing a positive public reception."
"Review" by , "This debut novel about life in a Chicago advertising agency succeeds as both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that band."
"Synopsis" by , Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is a family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
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