June 12th, 2007

End and Goodbye

I should really be just posting a quick goodbye before I leave for NYC, and then getting *on* with packing and watering the plants and taking out the garbage before I go. I *should* do that, but I feel that it is of paramount importance that I first let you just how very good Joshua Ferris’s novel Then We Came to the End is: extremely so.

Sorry, I’m really bad at rave reviews. Even though I constantly read good books, you’ll mainly only hear me mention pans. I can be articulate about why something sucks, but my exhortations to read something good always sound like, “You’d like it, ’cause it’s really good. Like, um, really good. I was so impressed. Really, impressed.” But it usually doesn’t much matter, because I generally read stuff that everyone already knows is good (do I need to tell you how floored I was by Michael Winter’s One Last Good Look? Probably not.)

But Ferris is American, and being mainly hyped as an “office” writer, not that I even know what that is. And sure it’s a novel about an office, and accessible and funny and social enough that lots of angry office folks would likely love it. But it is also, technically, a masterpiece of voice and structure such as one (well, I) can’t usually find on the shelf.

I read it because I saw a capsule review in The New Yorker that basically just said it was pretty good for a book written in the first person plural. I wanted to read it ’cause *I* am writing a story in the first person plural, and I wanted some help with it, since it’s not going too well, and I don’t know many other things written in that voice–just The Virgin Suicides and “A Rose for Emily,” I think (others? suggestions welcome!) As it turns out, Ferris couldn’t really help me both because our projects are too different and because he is probably a genius and I am sadly not one.

But, gosh, I wish I were. I *can* tell you it is really hard to write a united voice for a group, and even harder to convince a reader that that’s the only valid way to do that, and Ferris totally succeeds. In fact, he succeeds to the point where I can’t tell you some of the more marvelous things he did with the voice because it would *wreck the ending.* How amazing is that, to marry form and content to that extent?

Possibly, this is not the book for everyone, but if this sounds at all appealing, you totally need to go read. It’s nearly 400 pages, but it won’t take you long, I swear.

Also, I’m off to NYC sorta tonight and definitely tomorrow. So miss me lots and find me at Sabrina’s place if you are desperate to get hold of me. Otherwise, expect highlights upon my return. And three rolls of film, natch.

Looked out into the blackness

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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