December 22, 2006



liked it. can i have a copy?
think you should do this more often with good stuff, then tie in to a one click sort of thing where we could buy the book.

mai wen

I already had this on my wishlist and now I'm really excited for it to come out in March! Thanks for sharing the excerpt. I work in a cubicle now (I'm actually in one as I type!) and can't wait to get out and go back to school, hopefully this book will only further inspire me! :)

patty haley

Wow Joshua Ferris is living "our lives".

ann chambers

I havn't worked in a office in a long time and now that Joshua has brought me back, I can't wait to find out what's going on. Hurry up March.


I also cannot wait for this book. It's been pre-ordered ever since I read this same first chapter that was excerpted in Nick Hornby's 'Polysyllabic Spree'.


Your initial impulse was right on. This totally blows.


Try Sam Moffie's 1st novel-SWAP. There is someone to keep both eyes on.


Three paragraphs in, I felt depressed; by the end of the excerpt, I felt suicidal. Nope, won't be buying this one.


At first I thought it was writerly sour grapes on my part making me think this was so affected and precious I could practically smell the lifeless workshop table. Then I realized, no, it really IS so affected and precious I could practically smell the lifeless workshop table.


Thank you for saying that about the lifeless workshop table, not because I agreed with it, but because I thought the extract was great and it had just completely demoralised me as a writer. Now I can go back to my own writing feeling a bit better.


It's like someone rewrote "The Things They Carried" to set it in a pre-dot-bomb office. Amusing, well crafted, and unimaginative.


Why read the book - this excerpt says it all.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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