One of the first things that happens when someone quits at the office where I work is the pilfering of his or her chair. Everyone in the office seems intent on getting one of a limited number of fancy, ergonomic office chairs.
This is just one of the office-life realities Joshua Ferris exploits in his first novel, Then We Came to the End. The book opens with a brilliant line, closes with an even more brilliant line, and in between provides a superior reading experience.
Anyone who has worked in an office will relate to this book—from the quirky characters to the funny goings on. I laughed out loud several times while reading the book. But the story is far from simple comedy. You become attached to the characters; you see them as friends; you relate to their stories, even when those stories become more serious.
Ferris writes with such ease, the book practically reads itself. The novel, written in first person plural, creates a sense of camaraderie that eventually makes even the reader feel like part of the story. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this much humanity in a story about everyday life.
The only problem with a first novel this good is that you have to deliver a second novel that lives up to the first. Joshua, this is a tough act to follow. But I’ll be first in line to buy your next book.