That’s what she probably said

February 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

So I’ve really been craving something to read lately.  Something new, as in different from old Victorian literature, and set in America for a change.   So I came across the Publisher’s weekly blog about Joshua Ferris and his new novel The Unnamed.  This is his second novel, his first being Then We Came to the End.  Both published by Little, Brown and Company in Boston, Mass, and both being heralded as top bestsellers.  Since my school library had his first book in-stock, I decided to check it out, literally.

Then We Came to the End is a novel about American office life.  Set in a down-sizing advertising company, it chronicles the lives of the workers as they intertwine with each other and try hard to avoid being “walked Spanish down the hall.” 

I love The Office.  I love Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Dwight Schrute, Andy Bernard.  I can quote the office at a drop of a hat.  I can tell you when, where, what disc, what episode any line comes from.  So after reading the review, I thought, this book will probably be perfect.

But after reading the first 85 pages, I find myself barely interested and seriously disappointed.  Perhaps I was expecting it to be too much like the television show?  Whatever it was, I’m just not sure if I like it.

The book is narrated by an unnamed character that is employed at the advertising agency, so the narrator says things like, “We waited around for…” and “We knew that Janine was depressed…” and “We loved listening to Benny’s stories…” but so far I have yet to know who the narrator is.  And I’m sure it’s a literary device, you know, making the reader feel as if she or he is part of the book, involving us in a subtle sort of way, but I find it somewhat annoying.  And the book has so many different characters, I feel like I don’t have a good grasp on any one character, any one situation, or any one story line.  Tom Mota, one of the characters that gets fired early on in the novel, becomes the time line.  For example, “About six months before Tom Mota was fired, Benny told us…” or “About a year before Tom Mota was fired, he began to wear…” so this Tom guy no longer becomes a substantial character, just simply a point of reference. 

To be honest, there is nothing to hold me to finish the book, as hard as I’m trying. 

I think it’s uniquely written for sure, although I don’t read a lot of modern literature, so I’m not sure how exact that statement can be applied from me, but what I like best about the classics are the well-rounded, ever-evolving characters.  Like, the Bennett sisters and their hare-brain, always scheming mother.  Or Alice and her intense curiosity to follow the rabbit down the hole.  Josephine March constantly struggled to find a balance of good and morally wrong in her sensation literature.  And Ethan Frome’s determination to keep his love for his housemaid Mattie a secret.

These characters have life.  They have depth and sincerity.  They struggle between right, wrong, good, evil, and the desire to be what they think perfect is.  Then We Came to the End may have characters like these, but if so, they are buried deep inside the literary style and are bogged down with the constantly shifting story lines. 

It kind of reminds me of Valentine’s Day, the new movie starring Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, and about a dozen other great actors and actresses.  But there were so many different story lines, not a single one was ever developed enough for me to enjoy.  The characters’ actions were never believable, and I couldn’t get a clear picture on who anyone was.

So anyway, I might give the book a few more pages before I call it quits, but it seems inevitable that I won’t finish it.

On a side note, I’ve decided to GO GREEN.  Massachusetts state law requires all its residents to recycle, so eventually I’ll have to properly dispose of my plastic water bottles, used papers, and aluminum cans, so I figured, why not start now?  And if I’m going to recycle, I might as well try to implement GREEN into all areas of my life that I can.  So I’ll start with recycling and see how to go from there.

This will be my new project, and my new challenge, while I continue my search for the perfect book to satiate my hunger.


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