Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris

This book takes you somewhere. Specifically, a Chicago advertising agency in the midst of lay-offs. But it's the story's energy that allows you entrance to something solidly "other." With the snappy dialogue and a "can't be bothered with proper dialogue tags or paragraphs" attitude, the book feels a bit Hollywood, a bit Generation X, a bit like the world of sarcastic advertising folk.

It's told in the first-person plural, meaning narration often goes something like, "We didn't know who was stealing things from other people's workstations. Always small items--postcards, framed photographs. We had our suspicions but no proof." At first, you feel like you're peering over a cubicle wall into a very different world. Somewhere in the book's middle, though, you feel a part of the collective "we."

This book works in movements: humorous office anecdotes, which then ebb for the narration of an employee with breast cancer, and finishes up with a co-worker reunion at a book tour event of another previous employee. Funny to heartfelt to contentedness.

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