A review of “Then We Came to the End”

by Joshua Ferris

I really, really enjoyed this book. I’d heard about the odd choice of point-of-view for the story, but it worked incredibly well.

The book is written in the first person plural, about which I initially (before picking it up) had misgivings. But it worked really, really well. Even when the fact that this somewhat different point-of-view faded into the background and the narrative rose to the fore it was the perfect way to tell the story Joshua Ferris cooked up.

It’s the book most people think they can write; those people sitting in an office all day with their cubicles and assorted cubicle flotsam keeping them company along with thoughts of escaping to another desk, at home, in front of a typewriter or computer. Or maybe a comfy chair at a non-closed Starbucks, pretending to write that next great American novel of the workplace and its soul-blanching tedium.

The characters Ferris assembled in this office, and the odd bond they share over the course of events (and non-events) captures exactly what a lot of these would-be novelists experience, and experience to such a degree that they feel compelled to comment on the circumstances.

So Starbucks or cubicled novelists, listen up! Stop! You’re going to have to write something else. Maybe about the pleasant people in Starbucks. Or how your writing is significantly different when you write down the street in the Dunkin Donuts because the coffee’s better (well, the sugar levels are better) and the atmosphere is completely different. Who knows? But Joshua Ferris has done a fantastic job, from start to finish how a lot of these things end… and he does it lyrically.