Written by on July 19, 2007

And then we came to the cubicle.

Just came to the end of Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris.

Gimmick: it’s written completely in first person plural; no particular narrator. Like most literary devices, this has an up and a down side. The up side: it perfectly captures the mind meld that can happen when otherwise unique individuals are trapped together in a building (or “The Vortex of Evil”, or “The Temple of Ill Feeling”, as my particular workplace was known for a time) for a 40-hour week. The down side: no principal character to love or hate or identify with, or even to know the sex of, for that matter. But he’s so good at capturing the petty loathing/inexplicable affection we feel for our co-workers that we (now he’s got me doing the “we” thing!) keep barreling along with him.

Consensus: Most critics agree that Ferris manages to pull it off. Here’s an overview of critical and popular reaction to the book.

Pithy quote

“The funny thing about work itself, it was so bearable…What we bitched about, what we couldn’t let lie, what drove us to distraction and consumed us with blind fury, was this person or that who rankled and bugged and offended angels in heaven, who wore their clothes all wrong and foisted upon us their insufferable features, who deserved from a just god nothing but scorn because they were insipid, unpoetic, mercilessly enduring, and lost to the grand gesture. And maybe so, yes, maybe so. But as we stood there, we had a hard time recalling the specific details, because everyone seemed so agreeable.”

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One comment on “And then we came to the cubicle.
  1. NormaDesmondTutu says:

    The saga of “the chair” alone makes this a must read for anyone who can appreciate the depth of minutia people allow themselves to sink to when cubicled side by side for 8+ hours a day.

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