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Another debut is Joshua Ferris's Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown. 2007. ISBN 978-0-316-01638-4. $23.99), a riot of a novel about characters caught in the office politics of modern work-in this case at an ad agency. It is brilliantly conceived and told almost entirely in first-person plural-the "We" is a collective narration of characters who slowly become individualized as layoffs begin and the story coalesces. Ferris is witty, insightful, and exuberantly wicked in his examination of workplace culture. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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*Starred Review* Anyone who has ever logged time in a gray cubicle with cloth walls that wouldn't hold tacks will be astounded at the accuracy of this first-novel portrait of the workplace demimonde. Set in an unnamed advertising firm in Chicago, it grabs readers on the very first page like an executive assistant who can't wait to share the latest HR rumors. The firm is laying off employees, and as the quirky staff-cum-family alternately turns to and turns on one another, the reader plays eavesdropper to the unnamed narrator (who speaks in the first-person plural). He (or she) documents Benny's wild adventures with an inherited totem pole; the full catalog of Marcia's relentlessly eighties hairdos; Jim's lame but earnest ad pitches; Joe's inflexible professionalism; office leader Lynn's breast cancer; and the riotous yet painful mental breakdowns of not one but three pink-slipped workers. At their final gathering, the coworkers discover that their intimacy is a function only of proximity; no number of e-mails, lunches, or phone calls can substitute for the binding power of office walls. While the prose veers off into amusing tangents, like an associate trying to waste as much of an unproductive afternoon as possible, the author always returns to the story at hand. It's a 375-page, 3-martini-lunch of a novel, and you'll have it read by quitting time.--Mediatore Stover, Kaite Copyright 2007 Booklist