Just finished it this morning. Bought a copy along with this book, after what felt like months of hunting down this novel in several bookstores. (I remember standing in a Fully Booked branch somewhere, sometime before Christmas, spelling out the author’s last name. No luck then.) Finally found it in Bibliarch near where I work.
Consider the first two paragraphs:
You Don’t Know
What’s in My Heart
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. Most of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything. Those who loved everyone were unanimously reviled. We loved free bagels in the morning. They happened all too infrequently. Our benefits were astonishing in comprehensiveness and quality of care. Sometimes we questioned whether they were worth it. We thought moving to India might be better, or going back to nursing school. Doing something with the handicapped or working with our hands. No one ever acted on these impulses, despite their daily, sometimes hourly contractions. Instead we met in conference rooms to discuss the issues of the day.
Ordinarily jobs came in and we completed them in a timely and professional manner. Sometimes fuckups did occur. Printing errors, transposed numbers.Our business was advertising and details were important. If the third number after the second hyphen in a client’s toll-free number was a six instead of an eight, and if it went to print like that, and showed up in Time magazine, no one reading the ad could call now and order today. No matter they could go to the website, we still had to eat the price of the ad. Is this boring you yet? It bored us every day.Our boredom was ongoing, a collective boredom, and it would never die because we would never die.
Will you look at that.
I have no choice but to forever wonder how I would have reacted to this story if I had read it when I was still in college, when all I knew of office life I got from episodes of The Office.
Joshua Ferris writes so beautifully, and so damn accurately that he breaks my heart.
Read this book.