To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is the ultimate page turner. Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Joshua Ferris writes with fluidity, clarity and with a unique voice unlike any I’ve read before.
The novel settles around Paul O’Rourke, a dentist with a passion for the Red Sox and an intense dislike of the internet, as he goes on a bizarre journey of self-discovery. Paul is a stubborn man who is socially awkward, lonely and has a slightly creepy longing to be a part of someone else’s family. He is useless in relationships and continues to work with his ex-girlfriend who he was too afraid to fire.
Paul is adamant he will not be on the internet for fear that someone will steal his identity. Then one day he is suddenly plummeted into social media, the internet and religion when a website appears for his dental practice. The website lists all his staff, and in his bio the mystery person starts spouting off some religious nonsense that no one can understand. This leads down twisted corridors of Judaism, Catholicism and a potentially made-up ancient religion as the mystery person begins to invade all corners of the internet using Paul’s name to proclaim their religious beliefs.
It’s fascinating and leaves you feeling vulnerable and confused all at once. There is an element of mystery in the novel as well because we don’t know who is impersonating Paul. His staff can’t decide whether it is him or not, which leaves Paul wondering if it is him or not. This forces him to take a good look at his life and who he has interacted with in order to locate the mystery person.
The novel is easy to read but sometimes the religious parts do get a bit tiresome and confusing because he is talking about a never-before-heard religion. It includes names and places, people and new ideologies that some of the characters don’t understand either which makes you feel better.
The writing is brilliant and witty with a touch of dark humor. The characters are all perfectly written, all with their own flaws and quirks that makes this novel all the more delightful. Ferris is able to take a serious and sometimes (if you are afraid of the dentist) frightening workplace, inject some comedy and leave you feeling like the dentist is more of a circus than medical practice.
Ferris also does something unique with his writing. He leaves out parts of the characters’ conversation and allows you to fill in the gaps of what was spoken. “”I’m asking you about your walks to and from the subway station.” I’d answer, she’d say, “Oh, for goodness’ sake.”” It is perfectly done and fits in with the personality of Paul who is reluctant to give away too much of himself.
This is such a unique novel and one you won’t forget. Everything about it is new from the ancient religion that might be made-up through to the barely written about dental workplace. You won’t have read anything like it before and this is what makes it a page turner.
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Categories: Book Review
I love working in a bookstore but sometimes shit just gets unreal. Guaranteed sarcasm and poor life choices! And I'll waffle on about books too, so watch out for that.