To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Joshua Ferris, Author
Joshua Ferris. Little, Brown, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-03397-8
Reviewed on: 02/17/2014
Release date: 05/13/2014
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-316-32913-2
Compact Disc - 8 pages - 978-1-4789-5302-9
Hardcover - 182 pages - 978-0-316-32915-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-8385-9
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-670-91773-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-80533-9
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-241-00383-1
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-316-03399-2
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Paul O’Rourke, the main character of Ferris’s (Then We Came to the End) new book, is a dentist. And he’s a good one, informed and informative—even if the mouths that once seemed so erotic have devolved into caves of bacteria, pain, and lurking death. Ferris depicts Paul’s difficulties: in the workplace, he struggles to say good morning, has problems with the office manager (who’s also his ex-girlfriend), and likewise has problems with the devout Catholic hygienist, who can’t see why he doesn’t believe. A constant ruminator and obsessive Red Sox fan, Paul would like to believe and belong, but he can’t. And then the Ulms, who claim to be followers of Amalek (a figure from the Old Testament), hijack his Internet presence and claims him as their own. As an angry and incredulous Paul reads “his” tweets, learns about the unlikely history of the Ulms, and tries to figure out what it all means, readers may find themselves questioning whether the drama of the Ulms amounts to much. Paul is an appealing—albeit self-involved—everyman, but Ferris’s effort to take on big topics (existential doubt, grief, identity, the Internet, the lure and limits of religion, and the struggle to floss in the face of life’s meaninglessness) feels more like a set of thought experiments than an organic or character-driven story. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (May)
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