Then We Came to the End

By Joshua Ferris

We will be reading this for April’s book club meeting. Thank! God! is all I have to say. Why does What Is the What keep coming up on our lists and what fixations do these young things have with genocide?

It’s waiting for me at the library. Big-time fun waits for me tomorrow when I go get it. Whoo. hoo.

March 30: UPDATE
OK, I read the book. It was about some horrible people and I liked it well enough (too insecure about myself to actually wonder which of those characters was me at work for fear of learning the answer), but it was OK. And then I hit the Lynn chapter, and it was wonderful. And then I read the after Lynn stuff, where they don’t know what to do while she’s in denial, and it was wonderful. And then the Tom Mota stuff was a little silly, although I could see how it fit with the rest of the book and maybe even with the character, who was a favorite character. I thought Tom was well-drawn, as was Marcia and Joe Piper, at least to the point that I understood things about their personalities outside of work despite the fact that the book didn’t go outside of work.

And then I hit the end of Part Two and got to the epilogue, which was derivative at best. Quitting cube culture to go work outside is straight out of Office Space; Ben and Marcia’s romance is straight out of The Office. I didn’t like everyone going to a book reading and hearing lines from the middle of the book. I didn’t like that Janine turned to Harleys. I didn’t like Tom Mota being killed by friendly fire, and not because I liked him or that I’m pro-war or any politic or personal reason. It just seemed like a sort of extraneous thing to bring up. Just leave him in the army. Why get political, even in a small way? It’s distracting. The epilogue/part 3 was as amusing and entertaining as the rest of it, but I didn’t understand its purpose. I think the last few pages could maybe have been retained–the reunion stuff was pretty good–but all that build-up, with the Godfather lines… eh.

I have thought a lot about the voice of the novel. I always like to think of the first-person narrator as a character who reveals things without meaning to, and who filters the events of a novel for whatever reason. This first-person novel really created a transparent narrator. I guess that’s an accomplishment. Try as I might, I cannot put any personality to the narrator. I suppose it’s appropriate to have a completely shallow storyteller deliver a tale about the shallowness of work relationships.

After reading this book, I want to reconnect with old coworkers even less. Why oh why did I spend all that time creating my profile on LinkedIn?

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