mercredi 30 avril 2008

An office story

Reading the back cover of the book doesn’t give much of the story of Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. In fact, I've seen a number of people pick it up and put it back down again. After having finally read it, I think its a shame to give this book a miss. It is chock full of sly humor and a story that grows on you. And now I know why the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true even in its literal sense.
The story is all about a group of people working for an ad agency towards the end of the 90s. It is a time of great anxiety as this is the beginning of the economic downturn that sets of massive lay offs. Due to the spiraling collective apprehension, the office is awash with numerous rumors and in response to such anxiety the staff begins to behave in increasingly bizarre ways. Ferris captures perfectly the microcosm of an office with all the petty jealousies among the people, the various groupings within the group, and always the gossip that percolates persistently among them. His use of the “We “ point of view is an effective way of demonstrating the pervasive group mentality as well as the boredom and anger that the members of the group feel. But more than being a humorous take on office life, Ferris writes with a nuanced voice that rings true. The story is acerbic, poignant and funny because we know that these things do happen in real life. He writers with perfect acuity about the foibles of the people and the strange and surreal things that happen in real life. At the end of reading this book, you'll be a convert to its merits and like me do your best to get others to read it.

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