Sunday, June 03, 2007
37. "Then We Came to the End" - Joshua Ferris
A group of copywriters and art directors gossip and gripe through the dot-com bust as they watch their coworkers get axed, one by one (or, as they put it, "walking Spanish," based on the walk to the plank). In between the coffee breaks and long lunches, there is the rush to look busy, appear so important, in order to avoid being the next on the chopping block.
Told in a plural first person format ("we," to include all of the creative team members), it covers everything from stolen office supplies to romances. When their boss, Lynn, is rumored to have breast cancer, they all work feverishly on a pro bono project for the Alliance Against Cancer - while continuing to pack themselves into offices or cubes, complaining and gossiping.
It's bitter humor. The book has been compared to Catch-22, but I think that's a stretch. There is no political agenda in Ferris's first novel, but there is enough dry wit to knock one back into the faux security of a cube wall.
Being a copywriter, I probably found this book more funny than other people. The description of how we come up with ideas resonated too strongly. In fact, I may steal some of their methods. Overall, if you have ever worked in an office under the fear of failure or fall, this will remind you of every coworker in payroll, HR, and IT.
3.75 out of 5.0 Chicago Fizzes.