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Then We Came to the End: A Novel [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Joshua Ferris , Deanna Hurst
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 26 2008
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 environment--the one we pretend is normal five days a week.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Among many other reasons, Ferris's debut novel was acclaimed for its unusual point of view: the collective "we." The harried denizens of a Chicago advertising firm form a unified narrator, railing against the boredom of the American white-collar job and the dwindling of their opportunities at the company in the post-Internet bust. Reading a book with such tricky narration is a complex task, and Deanna Hurst, while game, is not quite up to the task. Hurst reads flatly, with little sense of the engaging rhythms of Ferris's comic prose. This abridged version of Ferris's novel often feels heavier, and longer, than the wonderfully light-footed original. Hurst just doesn't quite get the joke. Simultaneous release with the Back Bay Books paperback (Reviews, Jan. 8, 2007).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"What looks at first glance like a sweet-tempered satire of workplace culture is revealed upon closer inspection to be a very serious novel about, well, America. It may even be, in its own modest way, a great American novel." —Los Angeles Times

"A masterwork of pitch and tone. . . . Ferris brilliantly captures the fishbowl quality of contemporary office life."—The New Yorker

"Not too many authors have written the Great American Office Novel. Joseph Heller did it in Something Happened (the one book of his to rival Catch-22). And Nicholson Baker pulled it off in zanily fastidious fashion in The Mezzanine. To their ranks should be added Joshua Ferris, whose THEN WE CAME TO THE END feels like a readymade classic of the genre. . . . A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love, and loneliness."—Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Then we came to the end" - but it took too long Oct. 27 2008
I really wanted to love this book. I had read several reviews that promoted it, and I was very confident I would love it. Unfortunately, my expectations were far too high. Had this book been half as long, which I argue it could be, I would probably have enjoyed it far more. But I ended up continuing to pick it up and work away at it just to finish it and start another one. I know people like it, so I feel a little bad, but it was just too long.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Randomesque thoughts on a randomesque novel April 29 2010
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
-'Tour de force' is an old-school phrase. Rarely used these days, when everything is 'the bomb'. (Yes, I know that's also passé...) And it's perfectly applicable in this case.

-I've always loved the energy of début novels. Because they can be audacious, they often hum, sizzle with chutpah. (After all, I've always said it takes a certain 'arrogance' to write anything, a fiery confidence, and first-efforts require an especially large dollop. This one is no exception.

-It was also quirky. Without being overly so.

-I was often incredulous at Ferris's ability to keep things going. To maintain everything in the way and to the extent that he does. It's easy to forget that he's not got a linear narrative going, and that what he's doing might actually be harder.

-I went back and forth on the first-person plural perspective. Especially when it changed entirely...only to veer back. Normally I'm suspicious of (what I'd refer to as) gimmicks like this. But because of the overall accomplishment, I was willing to just let it go. Sorta. Kinda.

-He captured so much so well when it came to creatives and office life and all that. Annoyingly so. (I'm laughing here. I am. Really.)

-Despite the way the delivery of the narrative came across as stilted at times (there was something decidedly unnatural about it), that same stiltedness imbued the characters with an additional- Well, I guess it reminded me of the 'cringe factor' of the original UK version of 'The Office'.

-I hated almost everyone in the book...but had to keep reading. To me that's the very definition of powerful writing: you just can't stop.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT Like "The Office" In Book Form Aug. 4 2007
By Just J
I picked this up, thinking it was basically 'The Office' in book form.

It's not.

Ultimately, you don't really care what happens to any of the characters and I don't think it really rings true to what it's like working in an office. There were none of those moments where you chuckle to yourself and think, 'Yeah. I've thought that before, too.'

Don't get me wrong: it's perfectly readable, but it's not a page-turner and it's not particularly funny. I felt like this book was overrated.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great first novel March 31 2007
While Then We Came to the End has been touted for its humor- and it is a funny book- to read it as strictly a spoof of ad agency life would be to diminish what Joshua Ferris has accomplished in his clever novel. Filled with characters that inspire sympathy and revulsion, familiarity and curiosity- often at the same time- this notable first effort captures well what pressure-cooker corporate life can do to the human spirit, no small achievement for any novelist much less a brand new one.

Told from a collective "we" point of view, the characters nevertheless have distinct voices and viewpoints, with their own hopes and desires for life beyond ad life, desires (at times) at odds with their coveted, chosen occupation. Lording over Chicago from their lofty office perches, there's a pervasive sense not only of "how did we get here?" but also a disbelieving, disheartening "so this is it?" in their daily grind. Some resent the hucksterism inherent in the advertising world- despite having fought to be a part of that world- as if the ad world should somehow be more than what is, a corporate job that just so happens to rely on teams of brilliant, creative and quirky individuals for its ultimate success. Worse, by nature some of these unique individuals are nearly the antithesis of the very idea of teamwork, which alone provides some interesting conflict. Characters strive to do their best work, or creatively avoid doing any work, as rumors swirl about layoffs and clients lost and found. With their uncertainties and insecurities surprisingly at odds with their handsome, enviable salaries, they praise and complain, encourage and slander, all the while desperate to avoid the dreaded humiliation of being the next in line to be shown the door.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant start Aug. 17 2008
A book that is deeper, truer and more profound than I think it realises itself. The book shuffles between two modes: funny office humour, and scenes that may best be described as elegaic and even epiphanic. The office scenes are usually subtle and always hilarious, but sometimes feel like they belong in a lesser, not-so-transformative novel. But that is a testament to how wise the novel is.

The middle section, as has been written about elsewhere, is a foray into the perspective and world of a character whom you don't expect to hear so intimately from, and yet it is the strongest, most devastating portion of the book, and worth the cover price in itself. Ferris employs the first person plural for most of the novel; not only does it set the right tone, but it serves as a kind of unanswered question for the duration of the novel that is answered, with a sense of grand summation, in the very last line.

This novel walks a tightrope and never missteps. Highly recommended.
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