What happens when two thirtysomething siblings relive the summer reading programs of their youth in an all-out battle of the books? The race is on as they read by the rules and keep tally on their logs to see who will be the ultimate reader by Labor Day 2010.

July 22, 2010

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris

Sometimes it's good to live under a rock.

"Then We Came to the End" was published when my twin sons were eight weeks only. I didn't read much of anything in 2007. I missed any buzz about Joshua Ferris, which allowed me to see this book at my parents' house this summer and think, "Ooh, cool yellow book with bubble writing on the cover". The National Book Award emblem legitimized it as a worthy balance to my summer reading to date.

Every once in a while, one of my reading quirks pay off. Take my need to finish any book that I start. Sure, there are plenty of books that I plugged through, sighing happily when I finished the final page. But then there are books that start to pick up for me 100, 200, even 300 pages in, and those final pages make up for the laborious first.

So it is for "Then We Came to the End". Based on the cover blurbs alone hyping the humor, I expected this to be a funny, you're-going-to-laugh-out-loud book. I had read one review likening it to "The Office", so I had Michael, Dwight, Jim and Pam in mind. I had expectations of greatness, given the literary accolades. After a few pages, I got into the quirky rhythm of the narrator. 50 pages later, I was wondering when the action would happen. I'll admit, I read while I also reminisced about life before the dot.com bubble burst, my fun work friends from then, my work colleagues who provided the material for our banter, and that whole life-before-kids time. Suddenly, I was on page 197.

I must need a traditional story at some point to reel me in, and Lynn is the character that brought me back (even after the narrator regained control). Her struggle of maintaining her professional standing in the office, keeping her company afloat, and dealing with personal battles all injected a dose of reality. While it took several nights to plod through the first half, I flew through the final half (pausing only once to google the whereabouts of a former colleague who is most likely to play the role of Tom in this book).

PS to Brendan: Ferris' follow up book, "The Unnamed", looks to be one that should go on my books-that-Kerry-can-never-read shelf on Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. If you come to Chicago, I can show you the McDonald's where the distraught mother grieves every day during lunch. Then we can go to Hyde Park and try to find the bar where they all end up at the end. Books are magic!