Welcome back Buzz Book Club readers! This week, my June selection, Then We Came to the End, took a turn for the dark. At the start of the book, I spent most of my time laughing, but in this section, I found myself doing a lot more cringing. If last week I thought it was "equal parts devastating and hilarious," this part was a bit more devastating — but I'm still completely hooked on the story.
Here's a recap of how the Book Club goes if you're new: Every week I'll suggest chapters to complete by the next post (which, in this case, will go up every Friday in June). In these weekly Book Club posts, I'll posit a few questions to prompt discussion in the comments section.
Of course, you are always welcome to read beyond the weekly chapters, but please don't spoil anything in the comments! After the jump you'll find some questions that struck me as I read this section.
The next assignment: Read the chapter titled "The Thing to Do and the Place to Be" and the first two chapters of the section called "Returns and Departures." We'll discuss this section next Friday, June 20.
To discuss the second part of Then We Came to the End (in which we read to the end of the section titled "You Don't Know What's In My Heart"), read more.
- This section had a lot of disheartening things in it — from the way Tom talked to Marilynn in the hospital to the horrid things someone is doing to Joe Pope. The first week, I laughed maybe 85 percent of the time and cringed the other 15 percent; this week, the ratio was nearly reversed. Did you find this section more awkward, or were you still chuckling?
- The characters seem like insatiable gossips, so obsessed with knowing everything about the details of everyone's lives. But as we saw numerous times — from Carl's depression to Janine's lunchtime trips to the McDonald's — knowing a lot about someone is not the same as knowing them. Why do you think the characters need to know so much about people they might not care much about on any real level? And have you been in situations similar to that?
- On a similar note, why do you think the "we" characters are so obsessed with picking apart Lynn and Joe (who, for the most part, seem relatively sane and well-adjusted)? Is it just an attempt to pick out weaknesses with anyone in a position of power?
- The characters get worked up not just about people but about things — like the serial numbers on the chairs. What do you think is behind that obsession? Have you ever encountered similar obsessions in your office lives?