Then We Came To The End is a 2007 novel by Joshua Ferris. It is the story of the employees in a Chicago advertising firm from the late nineties, up to September 11th, 2001. The firm is going under, the boss may or may not have cancer, the workers are fractious, and layoffs are happening.
And drama ensues. Or hilarity, depending on how you look at it.
- A Day in the Limelight: "The Thing To Do and the Place To Be," follows Lynn Mason on the night before her operation. It is the only part of the book that is not written in first-person plural.
- Alliterative Name: Jim Jackers.
- Alpha Bitch: Karen Woo is the workplace variant of this trope.
- Black Comedy
- Butt-Monkey: Jim Jackers gets mocked and abused by just about everyone in the office.
- Consummate Professional: Lynn Mason and Joe Pope, the two most senior members of the staff, are also the only two characters who rise above the gossip of the rest of the office and behave in a completely professional manner.
- Critical Research Failure: Benny eventually returns Brizz's totem pole to its original owners - an Indian tribe in Arizona. The problem is, no tribe in Arizona ever made totem poles. They were unique to the tribes of the Pacific Northwest region.
- Gossipy Hens: The entire office staff, except Joe Pope and Lynn Mason.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The entire collective narrator of the office staff could be considered this. With only a few exceptions, they are nosy, gossipy, petty, dishonest, selfish, and dismissive. But they are also capable of great acts of kindness, like making signs and buying a billboard to help find Janine's lost daughter, or visiting Carl and later, Lynn, in the hospital. It's clear that although the office workers have all the faults associated with a workplace environment, none of them are truly bad people.
- In particular, Tom Mota is a major asshole, and not quite in his right mind. Nevertheless, he shows more sympathy to the mourning Janine and the clinically-depressed Carl than anyone else in the office.
- Literary Allusion Title: "Then we came to the end" is the first sentence of Don DeLillo's Americana.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Meaningful Name: Joe Pope is pretty much the most morally upright character in the book.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Hank Neary became a published author after he left the firm.
- Sad Clown: Tom Mota comes in after his firing in a clown suit, and starts shooting people with paintballs.
- Shout-Out: Several to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- Straight Gay: Hank Neary. Possibly Joe Pope as well.
- The All-Concealing "I": The novel—for the most part—is written using "we", and then ends on "you and me." It's only then that the reader realises they know everything about everybody except the narrator.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Chris Yop keeps returning to the office after being fired, even when threatened with arrest. He seems to be under the impression that he can get his job back if he just keeps working.