No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environmentthe one we pretend is normal five days a week.
Several pages into Joshua Ferris's very funny and impressively observed first novel, Then We Came to the End, we start comparing it with other memorable novels about the world of advertising. But after a few chapters we broaden the parameters and consider it in terms of the corporate novel, the office novel, the cube farm novel. By now, we've met most of the characters -- an eccentric, paranoid, hypercritical group at a failing Chicago ad agency -- and we realize that not only do we want to know more about them, but we've also begun to feel as if we are one of them, congregating in the hall to discuss yet another round of layoffs, the latest confounding assignment or the disturbing behavior of a co-worker. Which is why we conclude that categorizing Then We Came to the End as anything other than an original and inspired work of fiction would be doing it a great disservice.