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Then We Came to the End Hardcover – 5 Apr 2007


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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: 15.8 x 4 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,598 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

Review

'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.

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First Sentence
WE WERE FRACTIOUS AND overpaid. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Juliet Platt on 20 April 2008
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Horselover on 10 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback
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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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Durrant on 15 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Jay Oh on 19 July 2008
Format: Paperback
It's interesting to compare the largely positive response to this book by literary critics, and the very negative reviews it's getting here from readers. The Richard and Judy Book Club is one of the most powerful forces in British literary marketing, and they got behind Ferris's debut novel - so what went wrong? Perhaps such audiences typically seek something from a story - uplifting endings, appealing characters, a dramatic and tightly-plotted storyline - that just isn't present in 'Then We Came To The End'. The themes of this book are failure, stagnation and unemployment, and Ferris is seeking to produce a bleak inditement of modern office life. If that's your cup of tea, you might get something out of this story. If not, you'll hate it - hence I gie it 3 stars for being an awkward book that doesn't go out of its way to win the reader over.

In seeking to replicate the tedium of office life in the downbeat style of writing, Ferris has a lot in common with Douglas Coupland, particularly the latter's later noels such as J-Pod. Like Coupland, Ferris cannot resist humanising his characters and, in the end, proiding a low-grade sort of redemption in their compassion, stoicism and relationships with each other. Perhaps this is a good thing, or perhaps it's a cop-out from the bleak cynicism of the early part of the book - that's up to each reader to decide. I can't say I enjoyed the book in a fun way (it's funny-sad, not funny-haha), but I still feel it's doing something important in chronicling the greyness and repetition modern office life, a truth that remains strangely absent from most literature. It's difficult to make a good story out of such elements, and Ferris doesn't really succeed, but still I'm glad to have read it - there's an honesty here about the way we live and interact with each other that's quietly remarkable.
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