Msnowe's Blog

How do WE feel about this?

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on July 7, 2009
Remember the Seinfeld episode about the "maestro?"--it's kind of like that.

Remember the Seinfeld episode about the "maestro?"--it's kind of like that. A little.

So, m.snowe just started Then We Came to the End—an assigned book club book, by Josh Ferris.  This will sound horribly hypocritical, but m.snowe does not like the way the narrative is told from a “royal we” perspective.Yes, m.snowe refers to herself in the 3rd person because she prefers to avoid that short yet obnoxious “I-word”. But at the very least, m.snowe is a distinguishable character who defines herself by what she writes on this blog–and it’s fairly easy to glean how she leans in most topics, be it literature, politics, etc. and so on. But the whole facade of a first-person plural pronoun telling a story is a shoddy gimmick that cannot possibly sustain itself through almost 400 pages–and it leaves m.snowe wanting. Wanting an actual, literally-tangible narrator. Upon picking up the book, the nosism was interesting and a good way to indoctrinate readers into the advertising agency in Chicago in which the book is set. But as the first chapter went on, m.snowe couldn’t help but hope that this was just an introductory chapter, and that the real meat of the book would come through some more focused, and less omnipresent cipher.

It’s understandable that Ferris is trying to cultivate a notion of collective singularity, and perhaps suggest that we are all drones in whatever corporate mechanism we happen  to find ourselves in and this in turn binds us together—but no one worker’s experience is the same as another, and to try and synchronize the 9-5er’s experience isn’t just lame, it’s downright degrading. m.snowe is all about books that explore the tedium and ridiculousness of work culture (especially in downturn years), but there must be better ways to do it. And this first-person plural, if truly trying to grasp the language of the heaping conglomerate mass of coworkers, should be much less impressed with it’s own vocabulary and turn of metaphors. The best thing that could possibly happen right now, is that upon reading the rest of the book (Disclaimer: m.snowe just started the book, 80 pages down, 300 to go.) a less shadowy narrator appears from beyond the dark environs of the cubicles Ferris has so neatly sketched out for us.

Also, another book club member expressed her concerns with the novel, and made two points:

a. It’s really not as funny as she hoped,


b. It struck her as needlessly laconic.

We’ll see what happens once m.snowe (i.e. me, myself and I, and nobody else) finishes.

Update: We didn’t like the Lynn Mason perspective either. Ferris, we wash our hands of you…in the office break room sink.

4 Responses

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  1. Dr. Ballon said, on July 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I actually preferred the book Personal Days by Ed Park to this one. Both deal with the tedium and quirkiness of office culture, but I thought it was a bit funnier, and the narrative structure was much more jarring and interesting. A lot of people seem to dislike it, though, based on the Amazon reviews. I want to get my hands on e, but the NYPL search system has been no help there.

    There is also a Canadian movie, whose name escapes me, which deals with the same subject. It’s about a complex that contains apartments, offices, and a mall, and a group of people who work/live there who place bets on who will be the person who can spend the longest time without going outside. I’ll see if I can find the name of it for you.

  2. Dr. Ballon said, on July 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Found it! It’s called Waydowntown. I caught it one night a bunch of years ago on Showtime or something, and remember liking it.

  3. msnowe said, on July 7, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Neato, I’ll check out e and Personal Days… As for the movie, why would I stoop so low as to see a Canadian film? Didn’t all those Independence Day celebrations teach you anything? Or at the very least teach you our superiority over everyone else? Because that’s what they’re about.

  4. Dr. Ballon said, on July 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Well, I saw it before 9/11, so I didn’t know any better.

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