Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris

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Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris Empty Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris

Post by Graham on Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:00 pm

This is the book I would like to write. It is filled with character and incident, funny irreverent dialogue and underneath it all a layer of humanity. Set in a US advertising agency as the 90’s downturn begins to bite, its cubicle dwellers bitch and sass about promotions and office furniture and worry each will be the next to ‘walk Spanish,’ their pirate slang for layoffs. Their workload has been reduced to one project, a pro bono campaign for a cancer charity. Lynn Mason, their scary but elegantly-shoed boss, presents it to them on the eve of her rumoured operation. Next day she is at work as usual. What on earth? This is one of the major plot lines. The other is the fear that Tom Mota, he of the extensive home arsenal and the unhinged emails, might pay a return visit for something more than querying his severance pay. He does, but in a manner that is at once the stuff of nightmares (for the remaining staff) and satisfying (for the reader).

If you have ever worked in an office this world will be familiar. For me it was a nostalgic read, though thanks to the UK’s killjoy approach to gun control our redundancies were less fraught. Ferris has an interesting style, letting the characters tell the stories like an office full of Scheherazade’s and at the same time effectively capturing the allure of office gossip.

On the surface their backbiting and rumour-mongering is cynical but each has a human story of love or loss and in the last chapter Ferris has them all meet for a tearful reunion. The tears were mine. The characters continue their smart dialogue and drink a martini to lost members, but truths emerge, and story lines are resolved.


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