Hercules40 (a.k.a. PapaG) (USA: AL) (2008/05/22):
In the end, this novel is a book within a book. I am not sure from where, but I get the feeling, that Joshua Ferris is writing about Lynn, the senior partner, the intimidating figure in this novel who lays people off, but who in the end is scared by "breast cancer". There is a section between Part 1 and Part 2 of the book called 'The Thing to Do and the Place to Be'. It's the one section of the book that deals with only one person, one character in the whole book. It's about Lynn. That is why I suspect, the book, might have originally been intended to be written about Lynn and then evolved into much more than that. But even if that's not the case, this section, elevates this book to a very high level. It is such a wonderful piece of writing, it gives you such depth and understanding into a fictional character that you begin to understand her, you begin to feel how she feels, and how many others in her position might feel.
That is high praise indeed. Hank Neary, another character in the book, writes about Lynn in his fictional novel. (He's one of Lynn's employees who is always working on his novel, and finally, like the actual book's author, gets published). Later he reads to a crowd some of his words, as the novel comes full circle. And the story, like life, comes full circle. At this point, I will not reveal any more of the plot, and I have only given some vague hints about the office politics, the office threats, the office romances, the rocky relationships, and all the other things that make living life so extra-ordinary. I wonder if this novel in a way is also a tribute to our post-9/11 bout with soul-searching and the fear of mortality. Because in a sense, the characters fear everything that happens to them, yet revel in the magnificence of living, the essence of being. That is what makes life bearable. That we're not on this journey alone, but there are others on it. And sure, some of them have their quirks, and we talk about them, and gossip about them, and yet we also drink coffee with them, and occasionally we go out and have some drinks with them.
In the end, I found this novel extremely satisfying as it recognizes all the things it means to be human. And that is high praise indeed. This is my first 5 star review of the year!!!
My complete review can be found here:
Mary G (USA: WI) (2009/01/19):
Although this got some good reviews, I can't say that it was all that great. Best to get it for free and then pass it along!
michelle (USA: TX) (2009/12/16):
I thought this book would be a lot funnier than it was. I was disappointed with the plot developments. It didn't seem to move along very smoothly. It was ok but I wouldn't want to own it. Read it and pass along!