Sunday, December 6, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown No. 25

"Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris

From the bizarre narrative voice of someone who seems to be observing action just slightly offstage to the workers who get laid off and go just a little bit crazy to the joker who decides to go an entire day by speaking only in "Godfather" quotes to the poignancy of bravery in the face of death to life after the cubicles, "Then We Came to the End" had me riveted from the start. It's hard to get people to think of themselves as knowledge workers; all the other trappings of previous employment get in the way, from both the bottom (employees who see themselves as clock punchers) and management (corporate groupthink is depressingly persistent). Here Ferris gets his fingernails dirty looking at the lives of creative people trying to hang on to the stupidest of goals (office furniture is a big one) in a black comedy of ad-agency manners. This book is really funny and somewhat sad, as the workers either move out into the sun or into more creative areas or back into the office. This novel deserved its accolades.

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