“We were fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. At least those of us who smoked had something to look forward to at ten-fifteen.”
I loved the book, until the end, not the overall sense of the ending, like the final event was disappointing, but the very last sentence destroys the perspective the author has made for 380 pages all for the sake of a cheap trick, and I usually love cheap tricks (take note ladies).
Up to that point though, Ferris takes you into the office place and shows us what goes on in the universal sense of everybody kind of hates what they are doing, but nobody wants to leave and everyone is scared to get fired. In sum it’s about the most mundane aspect of life as an adult. There are no great sweeping character arcs, okay there is one, where everyone finds out that this work life isn’t all there is, because that’s wrong. If you are a working adult, then it is just about all there is to your life. I appreciate the book now after working in an office setting for two and a half years versus when I first read the book and was only starting in the work place.
There are a lot of characters in the book, the chapters are longer than average and it can become a task to keep up with them all, but Ferris does a good job of maintaining continuity throughout so that you do get to check in on each of the characters he’s developing, if only for a moment, every chapter.
The book itself brings us into an advertising agency just after the online bubble burst and advertisers were worried about being able to keep their jobs. Every time someone went for their exit interview it was referred to as “Walking Spanish” a phrase lifted from a Tom Waits tune, which I naturally loved. The story involves the rumors and the paranoia that an office in turmoil would have floating around it. Who is screwing who, who is sick, who amongst the fallen is going to come back with a machine gun.
There is then the little matter of the story being told in the first person plural, which was interesting, initially jarring, but once you work in an office you understand this mentality. It’s the people on the floor who refer to themselves as the “we” and management as the “they” and vice versa.