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To Rise Again at a Decent Hourby Joshua Ferris
Most of us worry about having our identity stolen and our online accounts commandeered, but what if the impersonator presents us in a better light? It's fascinating to read the story of Jack O'Rourke grappling with this very dilemma, if that's what you'd call it. Ferris fans will want to pick this one up!
Synopses & Reviews
A big, brilliant, profoundly observed novel about the mysteries of modern life by National Book Award Finalist Joshua Ferris, one of the most exciting voices of his generation.
Paul O'Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn't know how to live in it. He's a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God.
Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online "Paul" might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul's quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual.
At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love and truth, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is a deeply moving and constantly surprising tour de force.
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"With almost Pynchon-esque complexity, Ferris melds conspiracy and questions of faith in an entertaining way....Full of life's rough edges, the book resists a neat conclusion, favoring instead a simple scene that is comic perfection....Smart, sad, hilarious and eloquent, this shows a writer at the top of his game and surpassing the promise of his celebrated debut." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"[A] wry, intelligent novel that adroitly navigates the borderland between the demands of faith and the persistence of doubt....In seizing upon both the transitory oddities of contemporary life and our enduring search for meaning, Joshua Ferris has created a winning modern parable....He's a gifted satirist with a tender heart, and if he continues to find targets as worthy as the ones he skewers here, his work should amuse and enlighten us for many years to come." Shelf Awareness
"Enjoy the first great novel about social-media identity theft....It's an atheist's pilgrimage in search not of God but of community...O'Rourke's search feels genuine, funny, tragic, and never dull. It'll also leave you flossing with a vengeance." Boris Kachka, GQ
"[Ferris] shrewdly stages a kind of theological symposium in [an] uncomfortably intimate place, conducted halfway between levity and overeager sincerity....It's a pleasure watching this young writer confidently range from the registers of broad punchline comedy to genuine spiritual depth. The complementary notes of absurdity, alienation and longing read like Kurt Vonnegut or Joseph Heller customized for the 21st Century." Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"A novel that raises questions about meaning and belonging, even if the only answer is that we will never know....This is the novel's peculiar brilliance, to uncover its existential stakes in the most mundane tasks...[a] curiously provocative novel." David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"Brilliant....Ferris has managed to blend the clever satire of his first book...with the grinding despair of his second....The result is a witty story. At his best, which is most of the time, Ferris spins Paul's observations and reflections into passages of flashing comedy that sound like a stand-up theologian suffering a nervous breakdown." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"The author has proved his astonishing ability to spin gold from ordinary air....Ferris's third novel falls somewhere between the voice-driven power of the first [novel] and the idea-driven metaphor of the second....[He] remains as brave and adept as any writer out there." Lauren Goff, The New York Times Book Review
"An engrossing and hilariously bleak novel....This splintering of the self hasn't been performed in fiction so neatly since Philip Roth's Operation Shylock." John Freeman, Boston Globe
"[Ferris has] the keen ability to traverse the high wire of satire and lyricism, to at once write a sentence that can drop a reader's jaw, then make them giggle in the next...a writer perfectly at ease with both the bleakly absurd and the deeply humane, using them equally in hopeful pursuit of a redemptive truth." Gregg LaGambina, The A.V. Club
About the Author
Joshua Ferris is the author of two previous novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and Best American Short Stories. He lives in New York.
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