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Then We Came To The End

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  24,643 ratings  ·  4,181 reviews
The dot-com bubble has burst and rolling layoffs have hit an unnamed Chicago advertising firm sending employees into an escalating siege mentality as their numbers dwindle. As a parade of employees depart, bankers boxes filled with their personal effects, those left behind raid their fallen comrades' offices, sifting through the detritus for the errant desk lamp or Aeron c ...more
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Viking Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Laura Boss Adults - while it's not cynical exactly, if I'd read it when I was a teenager I'd never get out of bed again to join the work force...
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Jan 17, 2008 Bart rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of MFA fiction
Recommended to Bart by: New York Times Notable Books
Because so many of the GoodReads folks are participants or graduates of MFA programs, and because Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris is so obviously the product of an MFA program, I thought to hedge and give this book three stars. But that would be dishonest.

Truth is, but for 34 pages in the middle of this novel, I didn't enjoy Ferris's debut at all. Oh, it's witty and flippant and clever and occasionally funny, but ultimately it's not enjoyable.

It fails for the reason so many MFA-workshop



This book perfectly captures what it's like to work in an office.

And what it's like to work at an ad agency.

And I can't believe I waited this long to read it.

May 06, 2008 Patrick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever worked in an office
It's funny how certain books just come along at exactly the right time in your life. I read 'Franny & Zooey' when I was right out of college and just starting my life as a post-grad in the city, and it really spoke to me. I read 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' the summer before my senior year, when I was panicking about what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and it completely changed the way I looked at myself and the world around me. If I had read 'Then We Came to the ...more
Aug 29, 2007 Patrick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: promising debut novelist addicts
(1) How funny it was;
(2) The first-person-plural voice, which could have backfired but didn't for me;
(3) The guy who quotes Emerson (it was around here that I started to feel actual warmth for the characters, even when I couldn't keep them straight);
(4) The Catch-22ishness (though it wasn't slavishly Catch-22esque, which you might initially think);
(5) The very last line, which maybe could be considered gimmicky, but worked for me and which I read with what I guess I would call a "sat
OK, I picked up this book because I had read several good reviews of it. And it sounded interesting. I work in an office. This book takes place in an office. I love the TV show "The Office." Some readers of this book compared the two.

Then I read the book. And hated every minute of it. I finished it because I was determined to see why this author got such rave reviews on this, his first novel. Were people reading the same book I was? It wasn't funny. It was tedious. Maybe that's the point, to hel
Krok Zero
Sorry, haters. Review to come, possibly, as soon as I reclaim my chair--my legitimate chair!

Update: So, yeah, this is a home run. Deserving of every inch of its hype. It's too bad, however, that so much of the buzz focused on comparisons to The Office and Office Space (nothing against those fine entertainments) and the workplace-drone genre of humor. Because this book kind of is part of that on a surface level, but it's so much more--so much more expansive, humane, ambitious, detailed and moving
I was tempted to write this review in the plural first person so that you all would be impressed with how clever I am, but, fuck it, I have a novel to write and papers to grade! (Plus, what if you thought I was speaking in the royal 'we' or the blogger 'we' and the whole experiment just failed?!)

Ferris displays some technical savvy in this book. The point of view tired me out on my first attempt, but a month or so later I returned to the novel with an open mind (and heart, I suppose), able to fa
I wanted to like this book, but it just didn’t work for me. To vault directly to the ending, that in particular let me down. Big fat gimmick. If that was one of the main purposes for the use of the first person plural, then I felt somewhat like the victim of a shaggy dog joke.

At first, the first person plural seemed fine with me, but ultimately I think what it did was, instead of involving me as a participant, as part of the “we,” it distanced me from the book. On reflection, I think it was beca
I had a love-hate relationship with this book. We got off on the wrong foot to start, since the blurbs had led me to expect the read to be a laugh-filled riot. It does have its funny moments, but the overall tone was much more despairing than one would expect from its copy. In addition, the large cast of characters and first-person plural narration left me grasping for someone to relate to. I kept reading mainly because I enjoyed the references to my hometown.

About half-way through the book, how
Jr Bacdayan
There are some things in these pages that l can’t understand. You see, I have never worked my entire life. I mean like any kind of paid work, never, silch, squat, nada, zero, nope. And when I really think about it, I think I don’t want to do any kind of work. Sitting in an office doing stuff? Manual labor? Wall Street? Science shit? President-ing? The heck is that about? I dunno, seems like shit. But then you begin to think about the money. All those times you wanted to buy something but you did ...more
I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book. It wasn't a life changing experience, it didn't inspire me to be a better person, or to follow my dreams. It was just a fun read. I'll turn 37 in a few days and for the first time in my life I'm working in an office building, in a cube. Before I got this job, I thought The Office and Office Space were funny, but now I really get them. It's the same with this book. I don't think you have to work in an office to get it, but it's sort of like hav ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Amanda rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Stephanie Williams
Shelves: meh, blog
In fairness, this book is more of a 2 1/2 star, but given the tyrannical nature of the star system I am forced to go with a 2. Typically, this is the type of book I like--sarcastic, cynical, and funny. I really enjoyed the first half of it, but then got bogged down by the halfway point. I've worked in an office scenario like this and easily recognized the stereotypes depicted by Ferris (part of the fun in the beginning was recognizing and assigning real life names to the characters, "Oh my God, ...more
Back in simpler times, network sit-coms reigned supreme for vegetative pleasure. Even some further down our list of favorites could provide mild, mindless fun. I went into this book expecting something similar. It didn’t take long, though, to realize that this was a cut above that. Ferris pieced together something funnier and more knowing. To couch it in sit-com terms, it was like those episodes of MASH where the normal humor and sarcasm would give way to something serious and poignant. They wer ...more
First person plural isn’t a voice I often see in fiction, even though I did happen to read two of these books rather close together. Both had omniscient voices taking a look at multiple characters (the former was a family and this one was an office). Both were humorous, and both strung zany along with a dog leash and shock collar, zapping my mind at the most inopportune of times, and jolting my reality with more than just innuendo. But that’s where the similarities end, and I must say I couldn’t ...more
"Then We Came to the End" follows a group of employees at a Chicago ad agency as they are whittled away by layoffs. The novel begins with a short prologue set in the halcyon days of the late 90's, when everyone could make a quick buck off the internet, the Towers still loomed over lower Manhattan, and no one had ever heard of a threat level. As Joshua Ferris describes it:

It was an era of take-ones and tchotchkes. The world was flush with internet cash and we got our fair share of it. It was our
Julie Ehlers
Like a lot of readers, I approached Then We Came to the End with a decent amount of wary skepticism. Could Joshua Ferris really pull this off? The first-person-plural narration? The multitude of characters? The humor in the face of such a depressing situation? The plight of a forty-something woman with breast cancer? Fortunately for all of us, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. I don't really know how Joshua Ferris did it, but he created something really special with this novel. It's hilarious a ...more

The first thing to say about this book is that no matter what else I think about the plot, the themes, the point of view, or any other aspect of this novel, it was compulsively readable, which in itself is a mark of how fine a talent Joshua Ferris is.

In some ways, he is plowing the same ground as Douglas Coupland and Dilbert, but without the manic surrealism of the one or the cartoonish brevity of the other. Virtually the entire plot of "Then We Came to the End" takes place in a few floors of a
Feb 24, 2008 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who fears they may be alone in their work-related exisential angst.
I think it's telling that so many of our best and most popular artistic endeavors from the past ten years have come from people trying to make sense of the modern day work place. It is also telling that most of these efforts, movies like "Office Space" and T.V. shows like "The Office" for example, include some element of satire or dark humor. I'm still working on my theory as to why that is. It may have something to do with the "quiet desperation" many of us cube dwellers feel, and our need to f ...more
For me, this book followed the same trajectory as The Office (US). It starts off subtle and real and funny in an everyday way, making you appreciate the characters' quirks and start to love them. There's some bits of wackiness here and there that makes you pause for a moment to think, "Hey, that's a little over the top," but you realize it's justified because there's a moderate amount of crazy in all of us. And then there's a sad, touching moment that makes you realize that you really, really do ...more
Tara Everhart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I came upon this book on one of the book blogs I read after it was short-listed for the National Book Award. The reviews compared Joshua Ferris' debut novel in tone & content to "The Office," the best 30-minute network sitcom since Seinfeld and a current obsession of mine. So, Then We Came to the End sounded like it had good possibilities. And when I came to the end of it, I found myself having enjoyed it, despite some obvious flaws.

I have to start by commenting on the first-person plural n
Gregory Baird
“Do you realize how insane we’ve all become?”

In the post-Dilbert world of “The Office,” examinations of the everyday absurdities and indignities of office culture have become more and more commonplace. But rarely are they captured with such acuity, humor and grace as in Joshua Ferris’ stellar debut novel, “Then We Came to the End” (a New York Times top 5 fiction book of 2007). Office ennui is relatively easy to portray because, let’s be honest, anyone who has ever worked in an office has exper
(Update, 2014)
This is one of those times when my opinion of a book changed drastically over time. If you ask me today, I'd tell you this book kind of blew, I guess because it got so wickedly popular and also because his subsequent book (The Unnamed) was such a steaming pile of bullshit. But thanks to the magic of Goodreads, I have to face the fact that when I finished it, I thought it was pretty great. (Also kudos to my past self for already knowing how to properly use whom.)

(Original review, 2
In his first effort, Ferris creates a book that is somewhat like peanuts: you just keep on reading, not actually paying complete attention. Ferris is successful in re-creating the atmosphere of a downward-spiraling workplace, showing the characters' behaviors, motives, and interactions deteriorating along with the company's fortunes.

Ferris also portrays the feelings of a woman facing cancer surgery in a completely believable and moving way. This part of the book is told from a third person p.o.v
maybe you have to have lived in a certain kind of cubicle warren to have the fondness i do for this book, but i liked it awfully. it's a funny thing, these people you see more than your family, who are simultaneously marginal and unmissable, who end up defining most of your days despite their status as not-even-quite-friends. i'll admit to a certain maudlin nostalgia for the community of pre-2001 software dev groups. somehow, that stuff gets me, even if that job made me want to stab my own eye o ...more
It is rare that I complete a book, drop everything and rush to write a review.

This book was fantastic. I picked it up because my local librarian cleverly arranged a group of books and identified them with television shows. The tag on this book said, "If you like The Office, you'll love Then We Came To The End." That is all it took to put it in my bag.

I could NOT agree more with that assessment. YES! YES! A thousand times yes! And this book is full of characters who wish they had the self-aware
Joshua Ferris in 2010 was one of the New Yorker's "20 under 40" authors. I have challenged myself to read at least one book by each of them. I have a few to go, but this is my second by Ferris. It is his first novel and captured a lot of attention, including making the short list for the National Book Award for fiction. I really enjoyed this book.

The book I read included an interview with Ferris. In one of the questions, the book is described as "more like borderline farce at the beginning and t
Patrick Brown
I know I've been giving out 5 star reviews lately like a whore on Christmas but this book blew me away. Actually, I should be more specific. Throughout the book there were moments that made me say, "Of course! I've felt that but never been able to put it into words." You can't ask for more than that in a novel. Up until the last 100 pages (especially the last 30 or so, I would've given it 4 stars. The voice made the book difficult for me to access and at times it meanders too much for my taste. ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who believe in the importance of the individual, over the group
I have too much of this book marked up to ever be able to catalog all the good parts here.

"What I'm trying to get at here is that I'M NOT SURE ANY OF US KNOWS just how far we have removed ourselves not only from nature but from the natural conditions of life that have prevaliled for centuries and have forced men to the extreme limits of their physical capacity in order simply to feed, clothe, and otherwise provide for their families, sending them every night to a sweet exhausted, restorative, un
Trish read this a while ago and suggested it to me at the time. I had so many books on my plate then I sort of ignored the recommendation. But then the book got shortlisted as a National Book Award nominee, so I pushed it ahead of the pile. It's wonderful. I loved it and I think I actually liked it more than Trish did.

The book takes place at the end of the 1990's. The nation is undergoing severe economic drag and companies all over the world are laying off employees right and left. In Chicago, t
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  • Home Land
  • Dear American Airlines
  • Personal Days
  • Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet
  • Like You'd Understand, Anyway
  • Man Gone Down
  • Lush Life
  • Remainder
  • Kapitoil
  • The Anthologist
  • The Amateurs
  • Spooner
  • The End
  • Next
  • Lost City Radio
  • Tree of Smoke
  • Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
  • Natasha and Other Stories
Joshua Ferris's first novel, Then We Came to the End, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a National Book Award finalist. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and Tin House, among others. His new novel, The Unnamed, was published in January 2010. He lives in New York.
More about Joshua Ferris...
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour The Unnamed The Dinner Party Good Legs The Breeze

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“All broken hearts are circumstantial. Every lovelorn jerk is the victim of bad timing, good intentions, and someone else’s poor decision making.” 50 likes
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