No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the Chicago ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best.
The characters in Then We Came to an End cope with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. As one colleague after another is seen "walking Spanish down the hall" (office shorthand for being fired), the survivors obsessively parse their bosses' decisions - when they're not competing for the best office furniture left behind or trying to make sense of the mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that is their only remaining "work".
Joshua Ferris has a demon's eye for the details and emotions that make up our lives, and he has written a hilarious and moving novel about the strange selves we become when we walk through the office doors each day.
©2007 Joshua Ferris; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"Heartfelt and delivered in solemn deadpan. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel." (Darcy Cosper, Los Angeles Times)
"Wildly funny....At once delightfully freakish and entirely credible, Ferris' cast makes a real impression." (Publishers Weekly)
"It's hilarious in a Catch-22 way, but with an undercurrent of sadness that works counterpoint to all the absurdity." (Stephen King)
We were eager to read this, after listening together to Joshua Ferris being interviewed on the NYT book review podcast, so we downloaded the Audible version and enjoyed it quite a lot. Between listening sessions we talked about the characters and shared our thoughts about the book's narrators. We did not realize until it was over that we were listening to an abridged version. As a rule, we don't read (or listen to) abridgements. So we don't feel qualified to review the book when we're really only read part of it! However, it is clever and entertaining and any former or current cube-dwellers will almost certainly find much to appreciate. The composite narrator (much of the story is told from the perspective of "us") feels as fresh and novel as the first time we read Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" 23 years ago. We only wish the Audible version were not an abridgement. We felt, in the end, as if someone were missing.
I wondered what all the hoopla was about after I had finished listening to the audiobook version of this. I don't have anything against the reader---she was OK. But the book content is a real slice-and-dice job of the original book. This abridged version cuts out a lot of the fun, quirky stuff and you don't get a sense of how funny the book really is. My advice: don't get this version.
Audible: please try to request an unabridged version!
I really wanted to enjoy this book, but had a very hard time getting into it and gave up after an hour or so. Realized that I would have preferred a male reader - more appropriate to the text - and one with more enthusiasm about the project. Will probably give it another chance, because I really wanted to like the book. Also didn't realize was abridged. Like the previous reviewer, I prefer the whole book.
Having heard good things about this book and the author's second I picked this up. While there was one LOL moment and a few where I chucked to myself it is by and large not very funny nor interesting. Honestly, the best thing I have to say about it is that it is quite short so I actually finished it instead of giving up.
After hearing good things about this book I was VERY disappointed. It was filled with the natterings of clueless office people and a long and uninteresting first person commentary by a work-obsessed lonely woman facing a mastectomy.
Reader in Norway.
I guess it's my own mistake for not paying enough attention when buying the audiobook, but I didnt realize this was an abridged book until I went to see the reviews from other readers. Feel like I've wasted this credit now. I wanted to read other people's comments to see how they had reacted to the annoying first person plural narrative. I like to know who the storyteller is, so this anonymous "we" didn't really work for me. I recognize that it's a literary method though, and that it's part of what makes the book feel modern.
The narrator does a good job. It's also fast paced and feels very modern and fresh, inventive.
If I could have given it zero stars, I would have. There was no character development at all. I think the author expected that because the main character was sick we would have an empathy.
I love movies and I am trying to translate that into reading. Humor, action, adventure....With an infant constantly attatched to me, audio books are my saving grace!
The story is good, the narrator ..... i couldn't get past her computer-like drab tone and flat narration. I returned this book, very unhappily.
Should have purchased an unabridged version. The book is excellent. Felt somewhat cheated since it wasn't clear how much of the original book was missing until I read the paperback version.
It is a superb story from a talented writer. It's just this Audible version isn't worth purchasing due to the way the book was edited.
The heavy-handed editing made me angry. The book itself is poignant, funny, surprising and truly worth reading UNABRIDGED.
Audible should really give some indication as to how much a book is altered from the original.
I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
Ugh...what a disappoint. A colleague of mine recommended it so I gave it a try and I really didn't like it. The prose was irritating and self-serving. The end was so stupid. The whole book is character development and I didn't feel connected to any of them. Don't waste your time with this one.
"light and funny"
This is a charming little diversion into the life of an American office - witty, sardonic, ironic and ultimately a comic confection. Don't expect too much, but it will put a smile on your face.
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