Monday, November 7, 2011

Then We Came to the End

Joshua Ferris knows office politics.  This is a rambling, but fascinating account of life in an advertising agency in 2001, told from the perspective of the collective "we."  Although I haven't worked in a cubicle culture, it's an extremely effective way of communicating the camaraderie of a corporate office.  All of the characters, Tom Mota and Chris Yop and Lynn Mason, don't really seem to exist outside of the walls of the office; for better or worse, they're the best versions of themselves while they're at work.  Lynn has breast cancer, Tom Mota has anger management issues, Chris Yop can't accept that he's been laid off from his job... why do they continue coming into work day in and out?  After reading through the book and really feeling as though you're part of the novel, the last line will punch you in the gut with its perfection.
Ferris gets the whole thing about working in an office with the same people every day, and the trappings that go along with it.  Seeing the same faces daily is both comforting and infuriating; you don't want things to change, but you feel stifled by the at-times mundanity.  The narrative form isn't for everyone, but it's easy to fall into the rhythm of the run-on thoughts some of the passages have, and Lynn Mason's portion comes a bit out of nowhere to great effectiveness.
Although I'm a bit behind in reading this (it came out about 5 years ago), I'm so glad it finally dawned on me to add this to my hold list at the library.  Although it's not heavy, it still feels like literature.  

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