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Then We Came to the End [Hardcover]

Joshua Ferris
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 April 2007
'How we hated our coffee mugs! And our mouse pads, our desk clocks, our daily calendars, all the contents of our desk drawers. Even the photos of our loved ones taped to our computer monitors for uplift and support turned to cloying reminders of time served ...' Welcome to the world of Joshua Ferris' dazzlingly acute, brilliantly original, agonizingly funny novel. The dotcom bubble has just burst on an advertising agency on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Employees shuffle slowly up the steps towards the revolving doors, afraid of what is waiting to greet them inside their cubicles ..."Then We Came to the End" is about how we spend our days and too many of our nights. It is about being away from friends and family, about sharing a stretch of stained carpet with a group of strangers we call colleagues. It is about sitting all morning next to someone you deliberately cross the road to avoid at lunchtime. Joshua Ferris' fabulous novel is the story of your life, and mine. It is the story of our times.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition, First Printing edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670916552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670916559
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He is the author of Then We Came to the End (2007), which was nominated for the National Book Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and The Unnamed. In 2010 he was selected for the New Yorker's prestigious '20 under 40' list. He lives in upstate New York.

Product Description


'A brilliant account of the desperations of working life and it
had the singular distinction of making me laugh aloud' -- Ian Jack, Guardian

'Brilliant, funny, stomach-turningly accurate . . . an
attention-grabbing display of virtuosity . . . Descriptions of the ordinary
are so good they need no elaboration' -- Observer

'Expansive, great-hearted and acidly funny . . . Perceptive and
darkly entertaining' -- New York Times Book Review

'Savagely funny yet kind-hearted tale of office life . . . You
won't find a sharper portrait' -- Observer

'Wildly funny debut . . . At once delightfully freakish and
entirely credible'
-- Publishers' Weekly

`Darkly funny and often tragic - a Catch-22 of the cubicles - [it]
unravels the chaotic reality behind the unified corporate identity' -- Saturday Telegraph

`Slick, sophisticated and very funny, Ferris's cracking debut has
modern Everyman fighting for his identity in an increasingly impersonal
world' -- Daily Mail

`What looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of
workplace culture . . . may even be a great American novel' -- LA Times

`[A] formidable first novel which the whole of America is talking
about' -- Sunday Times

About the Author

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He attended the University of Iowa and the University of California, Irvine. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
WE WERE FRACTIOUS AND overpaid. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This is an intriguing book which provides a dry, original and darkly humourous commentary on the superficiality of modern corporate life and the dangers of the American Dream, as well as a reflection on individual creativity and resourcefulness. It is a very interesting read if you've got time and are feeling generous.

Like other reviewers I was so tempted to can this book after about 100 pages. I'd picked it up for it's quirkiness, but this started to pall for me about a third of the way in. Thank goodness, however, that I made a resolution this year - the National Year of Reading - to always finish any book I start, no matter how painful, no matter how long it takes...

It does take a while, but eventually this book really delivers. In the opening chapters Ferris makes our reading experience as irritatingly meaningless as the superficial lives he describes. As readers we learn something of how it feels to work day-in-day-out in an office where the true meaning of life is obscured by silliness, such as who's got whose chair, or how to write ad copy for products that people don't yet know they desperately need.

Then, about half way through, the style and narrative viewpoint suddenly shift to reveal the heart of the book, to tell part of the story that this book is really about.

The section entitled "The thing to do and the place to be" is a wonderful piece of writing, which surprises us later in the book as well. It describes a 43 year old woman's experience directly before she is due in surgery to have a mastectomy. It is a desperately dark and exceedingly moving piece of writing, which, with a few minor tweaks, would stand alone as a short story within itself - and is worth getting hold of the entire book just to read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read! 15 Feb 2008
There is a danger that if you write a novel about the mundanity and boredom of office life the result will be boring and mundane. That appears to be the criticism of those who didn't enjoy this, and yet there can be beauty, drama and pathos in such a life lived which Ferris captures this well.

There are a number of great comic set ups all of which pay off and the final section which looks back with the benenfit of hindsight is both poignant and moving.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want it to end 12 Jun 2011
By J. Wise
Joshua Ferris's funny-but-bitter debut was one of the books of the year in 2007. In truth, it's one of the books of any year of this vast, anonymous corporate age. Read it and you'll quickly see how high the new breed of young American literary geniuses is setting the bar. They're reinventing the novel, redefining our lives. Ferris is right up there with the best of them, a statement you won't dispute when you've finished his book, not if you work in a sizeable office, and especially if you've faced cutbacks or redundancy.
It's written in the first person plural, and no, I couldn't have told you what that was beforehand. I can now, though, and when I twigged that it was the way big companies tend to refer to themselves I had to go back and start again with a fresh perspective. (I've done you a favour there!)
TWCTTE is the story of a band of advertising agency staff suffering the effects of the downturn in the 90s. The characterisations are subtly drawn and shaped by dialogue most will find familiar. Ferris goes beyond sharply observant; he sees behind the averted eyes, listens in to sneaky back-stabbing chats, lays egos bare, hears the inner turmoil and fear behind management-speak. There is Everyman here, and what Everyman becomes in a corporate environment. But when we come to the end of the book we have revelation, a new way of looking at our working lives, indeed, even life.
A profound and clever work. Quite possibly a classic.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most I have enjoyed a book in the last year 29 April 2008
I was amazed to see so many poor reviews of this book. This was probably the most I have enjoyed a book in the last year. I can understand what some reviewers have said about the characters not being engaging at the start of the book. The style is very chatty, and at first you only hear small snippets about each character, and so you build up a picture of them quite slowly. But I was still enjoying the book as an amusing satire of office life.

But for me the book changed into a different gear about half way through with the moving and thought-provoking incident which other reviewers have mentioned concerning the hospital appointment. From that point on I really had to know what was going to happen, not just to that character, but to the others as well. At the end of the book there are elements to the plot which affect everyone in the the office and I thought it was an achievement of the book that I cared about what would happen to ALL the characters, not just the funny or pleasant ones but even those who at first had seemed quite unappealing. Don't think of this as "The Office" in book form. It goes beyond just being an office satire.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Having picked up this book on the off-chance, read it and loved it, I wanted to see what other people thought. Well, it seems that a good half of them hated it. This amazed me but also made me wonder whether it was a sign that the author was doing something right. The consistent five star novels out there have their fans and seem to elicit adulation on the one hand and indifference on the other. Whatever the truth, for me this was an exhilarating experience - I'd got(ten) used to the idea of the American novel (which still can't shake itself free of the Great American Novel cliché -there isn't a Great Moldovan Novel, is there?) - being a sprawling exercise in humo(u)rless literary machismo. For me this was light, funny, observant and populated by beautifully-drawn characters. Even though it's precisely located in history at the end of the dotcom bubble of the late 90s, it hasn't dated. It didnt succumb to the temptation to introduce anything more murderous than a sacking ('walking Spanish down the hall'), yet was the sort of novel that hooks you on the first page and on the second page tells you 'you were right to be hooked' and on the fifteenth page says to you 'you know, you might actually have stumbled on something that will still be read in twenty-five years' - and by the end leaves you with a sense of space and freedom and a sense of admiration that has long ago ceased to be reluctant. It is even unfettered by its obvious desire to be sprawling and magisterial and American. For a first novel it is daringly original, and the virtuosic playing with narrative viewpoint signified by the fantastic title (taken from Don Delillo) is not just restricted to the use of the first person plural. I was concerned in the beginning that the sense of paradox inherited from Heller would dominate the book, but it was a short-lived worry. How anyone could have found this dull is beyond me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Philip Glass music -- repetitive, but lulling you into the rhythm...
As I read, I initially kept reading, because of the humour. Ferris tells you what you do, and you laugh in recognition of what you weren't even consciously acknowledging (like the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amy Boone
5.0 out of 5 stars This MIGHT be for you
The 2.8/5 review average might suggest to you that this is a mediocre novel. It is not.

It ticks the boxes of everything I like: black humour, farce, lots of characters,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by P. Mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I read this book on recommendation of my teenage daughter. I found it very entertaining. Having worked in an office environment for over 30 years the level of friendship between... Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. Elliott
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Promising Satire On Office Politics
This 2007 debut novel by Joshua Ferris is a remarkably assured piece of satirical writing – for me, the sort of amalgam that might have resulted if Joseph Heller had written... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Keith M
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Funny
The tale of a group of fractious co-workers at an a advertising agency that suffers hard times and has to let workers go. I learned new euphemisms for redundancy. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andy
2.0 out of 5 stars high art
This is a story about the machinations in an advertising agency office. If you think that this subject could be quite boring then you would be absolutely correct and more so. Read more
Published 6 months ago by MissAnnThrop
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for office workers
A great book for anyone working in an office. The characters are instantly recognisable and we find them in any office we work in. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Gillian Haag
4.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable read - possibly not for everyone
There seem to be a lot of reviewers here who did not appreciate this book. It would not do for us all to like the same things, but I for one really enjoyed it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Miss AL Holloway
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring!
This book was so pretentious and utterly un compelling. It's not often that I don't finish a book , but this was one of them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lovekatz
4.0 out of 5 stars When the boom went bust
This is set in an advertising agency in Chicago as the boom comes to an end. The agency is struggling to survive, people are being laid off regularly. "Who's next? Read more
Published 17 months ago by gerardpeter
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