Then We Completely Lost Interest

The reviews were many and mostly fantastic: “Hilarious” said Stephen King. “A masterwork of pitch and tone” said the New Yorker. Then We Came to the End [by Joshua Ferris] is that rare novel that feels absolutely contemporary, and that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent” said Time magazine. The novel tells the story of the staff of a Chicago ad agency doing whatever they can to cope with the downsizing of their company. I had been looking forward to reading it but the one bit of praise—“The Office meets Kafka”—should have tipped me off. While I enjoy the occasional episode of The Office, it’s not long before I start searching for the TV remote—there’s only so much pettiness and stupidity I can take from characters because frankly, isn’t there enough of it in real life? It seems that the office environment, where many people spend the better part of their life, has become the fictional setting of choice for back-stabbing, romance and slapstick alike. There is almost a full chapter devoted to who the rightful owner of an especially comfortable office chair must be, after it’s been filched back and forth a few times and has seemingly become the cause for the most recent firing. Much is made about the “tricky-to-pull-off first-person plural” and how effective it was in telling this particular story, but it just got on my nerves because amongst other things I felt I was being included against my will and for the two and a half chapters that I was reading this book, I was reminded of the stuff my nightmares are made of. I didn’t care about these people, who seemed to me like those countless faces you see behind their cubicles and stay away from because you know they’ll be talking about you behind your back. I decided to end it right there with Then We Came to the End, and Next, I’ll Be Asking For My Money Back.

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