Saturday, May 03, 2008

Then We Came to the End

Book review from The Movie Snob

Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris (Back Bay 2007). This acclaimed first novel lives up to the hype. It is sort of like the literary version of The Office, but it is much more serious even though it is equally devoted to the absurdities of office life. The setting is a struggling advertising agency in Chicago, and Ferris perfectly captures the anxieties and the petty plots, pranks, alliances, and irritations that go along with working in such an environment. The point of view is innovative -- almost the entire book is told in a first-person-plural narrative from the general perspective of the art-design and copy-writing employees that are the principal money-makers for the company. (I can attest that they sound a lot like associates at a law firm.) For only one chapter does the narration suddenly switch to a standard third-person narration about the office boss that everyone respects and fears (unlike, say, The Office's Michael Scott). The whole thing is very effective, and I was truly sad when the story came to an end. I hope Ferris does as well in his second novel, which is apparently in the works.


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