‘To Rise Again at a Decent Hour’ book review
By Joshua Grant, Senior Columnist
When I picked up the newest Joshua Ferris novel, I did so with the knowledge that it included three things: one, it had a great title; two, it had a great cover; and three, it was about a dentist. Here’s what you need to know…
Paul O’Rourke is a fairly successful dentist, a Boston Red Sox fan, and a sworn atheist, but he has a strange fondness for rituals. He watches every Red Sox game, but leaves the room for the sixth inning because he always leaves the room for the sixth inning. Back when he dated his Jewish office manager, he delved deep into the rituals and history of her people, and considered converting.
One day, an unknown party puts up a website for his dental practice, Paul O’Rourke Dental, complete with bizarre religious quotations. A mystery! Then a vaguely anti-Semitic Twitter account appears under his name and he is contacted by a man who suggests he might belong to an ancient ethnicity with a secret history that explains everything.
There’s a lot to like about the novel. The protagonist is interesting, though a bit of a jerk. His voice and outlook are funny and frustrated, especially in his acerbic musings about pop culture, during which Ferris’s style shines.
However, the study of this confused man in a complex world is constantly interrupted by a fantastical tale of religious persecution and ethnic personality, which I had trouble following or caring about. Perhaps I wanted this book to be something that it wasn’t, but I feel like the novel’s title was sort of a promise unfulfilled.
In the end, there’s something cool in here. It is still a good read and I recommend it, despite the flimsy plot.