So I finished Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End. I was right it sucked from beginning to end. In fact the sucking got even worse at the end because it became sucking that thought it was clever which is the worst kind of sucking there is.
I’m still puzzled by why this book made so many best of lists. All those raves mention hilarious or acidly funny, that humor was lost on me. Maybe those people should go read the roughly six thousand times funnier and better An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, because it is clear they don’t know funny. Maybe people who have never worked in a cube farm would find the bullshit, typical office shenanigans funny, but anyone who has done time there will find the book utterly boring.
“So what?” I asked myself that question just about every other page. Maybe it’s because I actually work in the “biz” that as a reader I found the whole thing so dull and flat. If I wanted to read about ad pitches, presentations, changed creative direction, and office politics, I could just read my fucking e-mail. Christ. The more I write about it, the more annoyed I get.
I also had a tough time with the first person plural point of view. It was a bold choice for Ferris to make and I applaud his bravery, but for me it just didn’t work. I read fiction because it allows me to get close to a character, a situation, by seeing and feeling what they are feeling and seeing. When you’re telling a story through a group of people you just get watered down emotion and cliche, because that’s how groups think.
Now that I think about it, using the first person plural could be seen as a total cop out. By using the we voice, Ferris didn’t have to imbue his characters with any real depth or emotion. Since it’s told from the a group point of view, every character becomes a stereotype of themselves, a flat, one-dimensional caricature of their most memorable yet annoying habits and tics. Again, because that’s how groups remember and view people. Boo. Who wants to read that bullshit? Not me.
Then We Came to the End will not be making my year-end best of list. Oh yes there will be a best of list, but not until the actual end of the year because I am hoping to squeeze in a few more books before 2008 descends upon us.