To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: Joshua Ferris

 

 

Joshua ferrisA book which starts with a quote from the Bible as “Ha,ha,” is likely to be wacky. This one certainly is.
Paul O’Rourke, 40 year-old slightly curmudgeonly dentist, runs a thriving practice in New York. Yet he is discovering he needs more in his life than a steady income and the perfect mochaccino. But what?
As Paul tries to work out the meaning of life, a Facebook page and Twitter account appear in his name. What’s at first an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something more frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the man in the flesh. Who is doing this and will it cost Paul his sanity?
Clearly the author is coming from a firmly Jewish background and shows a, not surprisingly, good grasp of the Old Testament. Having read the book it is unclear whether Ferris is actually informed by a real faith in God but it is certainly a book about doubting ones doubts. He comes up with the memorable phrase, “a non-practising atheist,” more than once. One character in the book who has pursued money all his life, with success one might add, in the end takes his own life.
With black humour it is actually a very funny book. I am not well informed enough in dentistry to know whether the advice given is accurate, “floss, floss, floss,” is the motto, but the author must have spent some time in researching his subject. O’Rouke is certainly a very good dentist but that does not always endear him to his patients who are a mixed lot.
He has a series of frustrated relationships with his assistants, an occupational hazard of dentistry perhaps. He is also very bad at keeping his staff, a lack of relationship skills is clear.
It is an altogether very readable and entertaining book. Shortlisted for the Man Booker 2014
Peter