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To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel Hardcover – May 13, 2014

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: Paul O'Rourke defines himself as three things: a dentist, a die-hard Red Sox fan, and an atheist. He's also a bit of a jerk, which is why, when someone sets up a fake website for his dental practice, Paul has trouble figuring out who is responsible. But a synopsis of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour can hardly do justice to a novel that is constantly changing shape and context. What begins as a stirring questioning of personal identity later evolves into a poignant meditation on the value of community, before transforming again into something entirely different. As with his previous novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed, the paths of Joshua Ferris's narrative intentions are windy and at times unclear. But patient readers will find that when the author pulls the story from out of the woods, the things Ferris has to say about humanity are curiously and devastatingly observed. ---Kevin Nguyen

From Booklist

Ferris returns with his third novel, another dark comedy in the vein of his well-received debut, Then We Came to the End (2007). Paul O’Rourke is a Manhattan dentist so disillusioned with the world that he doesn’t even like it when his favorite baseball team wins the World Series. More than anything else, he dislikes religion, other people, and the modern technology that forces him to interact with other people. He calls cell phones “me-machines” and nicknames one of his patients “Contacts” for texting during a procedure. That’s why he and his staff are shocked when a website for their practice suddenly appears online. Soon after, a Facebook page pops up, followed by a Twitter profile, all impersonating Paul. Infuriated, he tracks down his imposter and uncovers a fringe religious sect that worships Amalek, the father of a biblical tribe destroyed by King David in a holy war. As he tries to recover his stolen identity, Paul begins to question who he really is. The protagonist’s sharp inner dialogues are laugh-out-loud hilarious, combining Woody Allen’s New York nihilism with an Ivy League vocabulary. The narrative occasionally stumbles and spins out in the novel’s latter third, but Ferris’ unique voice shines. --Adam Morgan

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316033979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316033978
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joshua Ferris's first novel, "Then We Came to the End," won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and was a National Book Award finalist. It has been translated into 24 languages. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, Prairie Schooner, and The Iowa Review. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Holland on June 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book started off great. It seemed to be similar to “Mr. Penumbra’s 25 Hour Bookstore” - a mysterioso literary sleuth with excellent writing and really cool hooks into the modern world, e.g. “Me Machine” as a descriptor for smart phones. The weird on-line identity takeover is also really fun, along with Paul’s (main character) dentist office and the dynamics with his co-workers and ex-girlfriend. But then about halfway through it starts to get too complicated. It’s like the book was edited down from a larger book and the pieces don’t fit anymore. Ferris is a fun writer, but without good structure this book fell down for me. It began to feel like I was at school, with all the Jewish religious details, and it was also a downer with all the personal religious failure stuff and the introduction of too many characters to keep track of.

I’d give the book 5 stars if it was all like the beginning, but unfortunately it didn’t work as a whole for me. I love Ferris’ writing style and nervy innovative ideas, but it’s also got to work for me as an entertainment. I know that might sound shallow, but I do read for enjoyment.

I would recommend "And Then We Came to the End" over this one.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By bananas on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I won and received an ARC through First Reads book giveaway on Goodreads.

Paul O’Rourke, who grew up poor as an only child of a widow after his father died when he was nine years old, is a successful dentist on Park Avenue in NYC. He is a luddite, an atheist, a cynic, and an antisocial misanthrope… or so it seems to others as well as to himself.

He hates all things technological and he'd rather opt out of internet, but he is always glued to his smart phone. He’s not a mere fan of Red Sox but a true devotee, who records every single Red Sox game and goes through superstitious rituals for the team’s win, but who also bemoans the fact that Red Sox had become World Champions but had been contenders ever since. He believes God doesn’t exists and everything Godly bores him stiff, yet he is attracted to, or rather infatuated and obsessed with religious people. He hates Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because he just goes through the same rituals at home (if it’s a game day) all by himself. When he feels down, he goes to a mall, a sea of humanity, to make himself feel better while at the same time depressed at the unwholesomeness of all those people. Most of all, he finds it all meaningless and life pointless.

When somebody fakes his identity online, starting with creating his website, posting comments under his name, branching out to facebook and twitter, ever increasing his fake online presence, impersonating him perfectly but with some religious stuff mixed in that nobody has heard of, Paul is irresistibly drawn to this fake Paul O’Rourke who seems to know him better than himself. And he begins his journey, kicking and screaming, to find himself.

Well… at least that’s my take on it.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Luiz on June 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ferris's first novel is one of my all-time favorites. The premise of his second one didn't grab me, so I didn't read it, but I was excited for the opportunity to read another one of his books. There is no denying Ferris has a lot of talent and is incredibly clever, but once I started it, this was not a book I was eager to get back to. As is clear from other reviews, the protagonist is a bit of a misanthropic dentist who finds that someone has taken over his identity and has created a Web page and Twitter account in his name, posting material on some obscure religion (with incendiary and anti-Semitic implications that they were more persecuted than the Jews). A lot of the book is the e-mail exchange between the dentist and the person who has assumed his online identity. I just didn't find these long, continuous and eventually repetitive e-mail exchanges an interesting read. And then the long tales of the lost tribe and religion the identity thief says the dentist belongs to reads like long sections of the old Testament. What action happens outside these sections is mostly the staff at the dentist's office being upset about the online posts. It just doesn't feel like a three-dimensional novel with lots of characters engaged in compelling drama that offers intriguing insights into their characters. Simply put, this was a big disappointment for me. Ferris is experimenting with lots of different ways of storytelling, and he has big themes here about religion and tribal identity, but this one didn't work for me.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It took me an hour of reading to start getting Paul O'Rourke under my skin. He really is too generally self absorbed to stand for any amount of time. He is feeling grouchy about his dental patients although he gives them his best. He just hasn't been able to latch onto anything that is "everything". His love affairs are all encompassing and consist of complete blanket devotion to the point the woman flees. Then one day he is looking at his "me-machine", otherwise known as a cell phone. Someone has stolen his identity and put up a lovely website for his practice. In chasing this person down, he becomes part of a lengthy search for himself, an unknown Ulm.

I guess around the time that he realizes that other than the theology that itches him, the website represents a better version of himself that I began to get intrigued with the guy. The long winded Red Sox monologues make me nuts, but then began to enmesh me in the romance of a losing team's fan. And it turns out he cares deeply for people, although he hadn't known it. The book is full of quirky little factoids and side trips that snare the unwary, myself included. There is a certain charm to it all. I kind of really like the once grouchy dentist.
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