"I saw the thing on Gawker today about Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, and I think they deserve every bit of snark you guys heap on them," said Josh Ferris. His raved-about debut novel's release was being celebrated last night with the kind of loving, emotional enthusiasm usually reserved for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. When told that the word "snark" was over and off-limits, Ferris's puppy-dog eyes narrowed momentarily. "Well, okay, but what should I say instead? They deserve all the shit you guys heap on them?" When this revision met with approval, Ferris cracked a big, sincere grin. The grin faded, though, when Ferris was pressed about whether, should film rights to And Then We Came To The End sell, he and his wife might be tempted to buy a $7 million brownstone in Park Slope. "My brownstone would be in Sunset Park," he declared, after a moment of serious deliberation. It's hard not to like Josh Ferris.
This seems to be the consensus, in spite of the fact that success stories like Ferris's usually inspire, well, shit-heaping. He is in his 30's. His novel sold to rock star editor Reagan Arthur of Little, Brown literally overnight, reportedly in a bidding war with eight other publishers. This Sunday, it will be reviewed on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and it's already prompted Slate's Meghan O'Rourke to inaugurate a new 'debut novel tongue-bath' feature. The book also has a very, very fancy web presence.
O'Rourke and Arthur both joined the medium-sized gaggle of industry types and Ferris friends and relations to celebrate the book's publication last night at Lolita, a location chosen even though Ferris is not a blogger. He might as well be. The 'end' in the book's title is the end of the dot-com boom, and the characters in it are the "corporate citizens" of a Chicago ad firm who struggle as their easy lives degenerate into aught-y angst.
No angst of any kind was on display at Lolita, though. As Ferris toasted the women who'd supported him through his novel's publication—his agent Julie Barer, his wife, and Reagan Arthur, who he thanked for having "access to money,"—and described a formative road trip with his brother, onlookers beamed as if they were watching the cutting of the wedding cake. When Ferris got off a particularly funny line, Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch leaned over a reporter who was scribbling in a notebook: "You're writing that one down, right?" he whispered, beaming like a proud parent. When Ferris actually thanked his parents—"for giving birth to me"—there was a full-on chorus of awwws.