Sunday, October 12, 2008

Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris

It's been a while since I read this book, I fell behind on my book reviews, but here's what I remember...

Do you watch the movie, Office Space, and the TV show, The Office, and laugh hysterically because it's so ridiculous and true? You laugh because you lived it, and you survived, or are surviving it, and you have to laugh to keep from crying?

I spent nine years in an office. I started making plans to leave about seven years in, and around that time, things started to fall apart. Moving in new directions, relocations, etc. It worked out well for me, around the time I was ready to leave, the company was ready to be rid of us, so I waited for the severance package. We all did okay.

It was after I'd been away from the office for a while that I found this book at the library. As is often the case, it was the title that attracted me. I thought it was a tragic love story. But instead it's the story of an office and what happens in an office when a group of people work together every day. It's about the way their unique, individual personalities mesh and collide. In this particular case, it is about what happens in such an office when the economy takes a hit, and downsizing begins - which explains the title.

As I was reading this, I thought, this person must have worked at the same company I worked. I did some research, thinking of all the wanna-be writers at our news distribution service. I was unable to find any connections, and it was then I realized that all offices, for the most part, are very much the same. It doesn't matter if they are distributing news or paper or plastic, in the end, it's all the same.

The story rang so true. I could match the characters with characters from my own experiences in the corporate world. It was funny and it was sad because that's what real life is.

I've recommended this book to all of my former co-workers, though I don't think any of them took me up on the recommendation. It's an enjoyable read, if only for nostalgic purposes. I don't know that I'd find it so humorous if I was still in that situation.

And here's the website that accompanied the book, which I found to be amusing: