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Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris The trouble with ebook browsing is that you cannot always peek into the book. I found the cover of this book intriguing and so I checked it out, but as soon as I looked at the first page, I recognized it as something I had read a few years ago. I have decided that I would not review a book any later than 2 days after finishing it and knowing that I remembered this fairly well still did not give me license (in my own strange world, I realize) to give a review without a re-reading. And so, I re-read.

That said, I'm glad I did so. I would have given it a 2 or 3 star rating just on memory (and not written a review). Instead, I can accurately give it 4 stars. Makes me kind of wonder if I should start systematically re-reading everything on my read shelf that I didn't review. Anything prior to the start of my goodreads account is now questionable in my mind (okay enough silly paranoia about accuracy).

And to the book. It was good. It is witty and personable and entertaining. It is not very profound, but it has its moments: "One thing we knew for certain--despite all our certainties, it was very difficult to guess what one individual was thinking at any given moment." or "Our memory in that place was not unlike that of goldfish. Goldfish who took a trip every night in a small clear bag of water and then returned in the morning to their bowl."

I like the 2nd person plural tense ("we" as a collective office body). Personally, I am lucky to have never really worked in an office (10 months in the year between college and grad school hardly counts) and so I can't speak to the accuracy of the anecdotes. But they feel real and believable and so middle school (as the adults just mess around trying to waste time and procrastinate work): "We liked wasting time, but almost nothing was more annoying than having our wasted time wasted on something not worth wasting it on."

I also liked that this takes place in an ad agency (hence all the layoffs in early 2000s) and some of the "creatives" are all aware that what they do is meaningless and that we live in this consumeristic culture. The commentary was not overt, but there were moments: "We informed you in six seconds that you needed something you didn't know you lacked. We made you want anything that anyone willing to pay us wanted you to want. We were hired guns of the human soul. We pulled the strings on the people across the land and by god they got to their feet and they danced for us."

I found it slightly annoying that all the meat happens in the same week (there are months of layoffs and certainly the book digresses to tell lots of stories--as do the office mates when they wander looking for distractions). Seriously, Tom is fired at the end of a week, the next week Yop is fired on Monday, Lynn skips surgery on Tuesday, and then later that week Tom comes in shooting his paintball. Seemed a bit too convenient that it all happens so quickly. Otherwise, though it was entertaining and certainly worth reading.