By David Combest
April 2, 2014
With only about a month left in the school year, most students are looking forward to some time off from their busy schedules of work and classes. For those of us who are graduating this May, we are hoping to find work.
From the career opportunity posters around campus to the networking invitation emails in our inboxes, seniors are invited to look into different types of careers upon their exit from Dominican. While such opportunities may tell us what responsibilities we should expect from future careers, what they don’t tell us is what the true culture of the workplace is.
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Joshua Ferris’ book, “Then We Came to The End,” a book that I consider a must-read for those coming-of-age in the workforce in the 21st Century.
The story follows a Chicago advertising agency that is experiencing a downturn at the end of ‘90s Internet boom. While the novel takes place in the ‘90s, the issues addressed are very contemporary.
In the book, the economy is not at its best and worry still plagues Americans as they just hope to keep a job. At first glance, the novel may seem like just another book about another company going under and showing the harsh reality of living in a recession. Luckily, there is more depth to it than just the negativity.
I am happy to say this novel is not strictly pessimistic or optimistic; it is complex just like life tends to be. The characters are more than employees, their employer is more than just a corporate suit and the narrative looks into the lives of these people to show interesting stories.
The dynamics between the characters are filled with humor, drama, witty dialogue and even action. Ferris has a wonderful pace that moves the story along and yet, takes the time to make each character multi-faceted. He is a master at blending their corporate lives with their personal lives, creating relatable characters, no matter what field you’re in.
However, to say “Then We Came to The End” is a corporate novel is not entirely true.
It is a novel about life in the 21st century. Romance, work, friendship, killing time, being creative and all the other things that make life worthwhile are found within these pages. The book holds the reader’s attention and evokes emotion as they ride along on the adventures of each character.
Ferris creates a world of understanding, a radical view since work is usually seen as a negative soul-sucking experience. The book is very similar to Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” in that there are many characters, absurd and humorous moments and a look into lives of people close to one another. That being said, the novel has a voice of its own and is not trying to be a repeat of an excellent established work from 60 years ago.
With the future of the 21st century workplace evolving every day, we know the blueprint of what our careers demand from us yet do not know the culture that will always come with it. “Then We Came to The End” truly gives the reader an insight of the world post-graduation. Besides being true to life, the novel is very entertaining and is easily a classic, which is always important for an excellent read.