Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: Then We Came to the End

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

This book is appearing on all the best of 2007 lists and it's easy to understand why. Good books about work are hard to come by, books that capture the mundane and the inane like this one does. Even if the reader doesn't work in a similar environment of cubicles and corridors, we know these people, these relationships. And then there's the first-person plural.

I may have said this before, that I'm not one for novelty for its own sake. It seems that much of the attention that this book has garnered has been because of the point of view, that "we" voice. Now, I have of course read Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" and this book works in a similar fashion. Faulkner's small town and Ferris's ad agency both suffer from group think. The distinction is that for Faulkner he only used this voice for a short story, Ferris drags it out for the length of a novel. Getting a hundred pages in and realizing that you don't have a single character to associate with is difficult. And at that point the book's novelty wears thin.

The book was funny and quotable, some of the characters unforgettable, but in the end I felt about as empty as the characters, the agency's employees who just keep coming into work for no particular reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment