Then We Came to the End

Then We Came to the End

A Novel

Book - 2007
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Winner of the Hemingway Foundation / PEN Award, this debut novel is "as funny as The Office , as sad as an abandoned stapler . . . that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent." (TIME)

No one knows us in 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 Chicago ad agency depicted in Joshua Ferris's exuberantly acclaimed first novel is family at its best and worst, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.

With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells an emotionally true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environment--the one we pretend is normal five days a week.

One of the Best Books of the Year
Boston Globe * Christian Science Monitor * New York Magazine * New York Times Book Review * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Time magazine * Salon
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780316016384
Characteristics: 387 p. ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Chicago Fiction
ChiPubLib_Adults Oct 09, 2013

At the end of the 90s boom a Chicago ad agency is plagued with layoffs. The remaining employees gather around their cubicles to gossip, plot, and wonder who will be the next to "walk Spanish" down the hall, all while trying to look busy and necessary.

From the critics

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Apr 18, 2020

I agree with the reader who commented that you either really like this book, or you don’t. I found it ultimately unreadable. Nothing funny or interesting at all about the characters, nor a compelling story. Perhaps it has something to do with having spent my career working in offices, and the best way to cope with its mind-numbingness was to remain uninvolved in people’s meaningless dramas.

DBRL_LaurenW Dec 08, 2016

This novel manages to be, by turns or sometimes all at once, absurd and funny, moving and poignant. The book's plot points and characters feel recognizable, especially if you've ever spent time in a cubicle speculating about who might be escorted out by security in the next round of layoffs. The "work" of this workplace is figuring out how to look busy when you actually are just scouting the building for free doughnuts, trading gossip, pulling off pranks, and vying for the best furniture left by former employees. (There is a bit surrounding office chairs that made me laugh out loud.) A solid workplace satire.

Dec 06, 2016

This book revolves around a group of office workers at an advertising agency who are paid quite well, but seem to spend their days doing all kinds of non-work related things. The sword of layoff is hanging over them and their reactions run the gamut from acceptance to denial. We meet the characters through the eyes of others, and then as the book progresses we see their many facets revealed. It was a bit of a slog to begin with, but by the halfway point I found myself drawn in and wanting to see how these people dealt with their life/work changes. Surprises came.

Jan 15, 2015

I liked this book which makes sense as I loved "The Office" and I like Dilbert. It starts off great and although I agree that it drags a little in the middle I am glad. I stuck with it as it picks up and is exciting' funny and sad in about the last third.

ChristchurchLib Oct 19, 2014

"As downsizing continues to decrease their numbers, the remaining copywriters and designers at a once-successful advertising company spend their time gossiping about who's next (or whose anxiety is getting the best of them), competing for the best left-behind office furniture (chairs are particularly sought-after), and relishing secret romances, elaborate pranks, and frequent coffee breaks. They have only one real project -- a mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that may or may not have to do with their boss's illness. Quirky and often absurd, this debut novel perfectly captures office life during stressful times." Fiction A to Z October 2014 newsletter

grantos Jun 22, 2014

Loved the first person collective tense. Classic example of an office setting, hit home, great novel.

Jun 04, 2014

From the comments here, I'm guessing it's a polarizing work - people either love it or hate it. God, I loved this book. The use of first-person plural - such a neat device. Found it very witty and enjoyable - Dilbert for the literary crowd. Love the buckcases....! ah, loved so much about this book. Snaps to Joshua Ferris. Much fun!

oO_Oo Apr 10, 2014

I tried really hard to like this book. But I just couldn't. The first person plural narrative seems affected and forced. Also I couldn't care less about any of the characters. They were flat and although I felt like Ferris tried really hard to make them quirky and funny, they failed to be quirky and funny. I worked in an ad agency for a while and hated it, so maybe that's why I hated the book. Or maybe it's a terrible book. I felt like I wasted a significant amount of my valuable reading time trying to slog through this one. Nobody can say I didn't try because I read more than half of it. Onwards, I say! Life is too short for bad books.

Esther77 Jul 22, 2013

I really wanted to like this book. I love workplace stories, and the idea of the style seemed interesting. But...something about the writing just wasn't that interesting. It took a really long time to read, and I didn't feel that interested in finding out what would happen next. I really wish it had been a better read because it was such a good idea.

Feb 24, 2013

This must be the strongest, most well-written comedic first novel about a workplace ever published – it really beats the hell out of that category. It’s like Catch-22 meets The Office.

At first, Then We Came To The End seems like a memoir, like this first-time novelist has simply taken his own experiences from a past workplace and spun them into hilarious literary gold. Even then, the author’s powerful literary talent keeps multiple hilarious coworker anecdotes juggled in the air at the same time and the frenetic pace makes the workday pass quickly.

But at the very end we find out who the narrator really is, and suddenly you realize this author is an even better writer than you thought (and suddenly the weird part in the middle makes sense). A truly excellent first novel. Not quite the same thing as a truly excellent novel, but an exciting showcase of emerging literary talent nonetheless.

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Dec 12, 2015

And for those of you who think Lynn Mason in addition to cancer suffers from the disease talk shows diagnose as Needing a Man, if you think that's why she was parked outside Martin's office building, then you haven't yet understood the circumstances of Tuesday night, the forces at play that make her desperate and wanting in a way that is wholly unlike her... Self-sufficiency has always been her first and last commandment... It wasn't political, this headstrong determination to answer to no one, to achieve, to be the boss, to earn and sock it away ... It was personal. She did not care to hitch her wagon to anyone else, because she knew truth, happiness, success, all of what was deep and holy, was already present in the car with her. She just didn't have access to any of it tonight and wanted someone with her in the passenger seat. p.224

Aug 20, 2009

Some people would never forget certain people, a few people would remember everyone, and most of us would mostly be forgotten. Sometimes it was for the best ... But did anybody want to be forgotten about completely? We had dedicated years to that place, we labored under the notion we were making names for ourselves, we had to believe in our hearts that each one of us was memorable. And yet who wanted to be remembered for their poor taste or bad breath? Still, better to be remembered for those things than forgotten for your perfect parboiled blandness.

In other words, amnesty was a gift, but oblivion was terror.

Mar 14, 2008

We were fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. At least those of us who smoked had something to look forward to at ten-fifteen... We thought that moving to India might be better, or going back to nursing school. Doing something with the handicapped or working with our hands. No one ever acted on these impulses, despite their daily, sometimes hourly contractions. Instead we met in conference rooms to discuss the issues of the day.


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