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.
This section marks the pivotal point in the book after which the office characters shift into our consciousness as more real, more sympathetic, and more understandable. In the end we have to know what happens to Lynn Mason, Benny Shassburger, Tom Mota, Chris Yop and Marcia Dwyer - and the closing chapters provide us with intrigue, shock-value and a pleasing denouement.
I've only given this 3 stars because I found it threateningly inaccessible, and many readers will be put off by its initial ramblings. But if you grit your teeth and stick with it you will be richly rewarded for your efforts.