Joshua Ferris is no stranger to success having won awards for some of his previous work, most notably Then We Came to the End so it came as no surprise that his most recent novel was part of the Man Booker Prize Shortlist.
‘To Rise Again At A Decent Hour’ follows Paul O’Rourke who is a particularly hard working dentist (working 6 days a week to be exact), a man who tortures himself as a dedicated Red Sox fan who tapes and watches every game (even though they always lose), and is always at a loss as to how to spend his Friday evenings.
The start of the book is well paced and fresh, and even funny in places, however the action that sets the story in motion is also the point where the book began to get somewhat tedious. Paul is against having a website or any kind of online presence for his already successful dental surgery, despite advice from his excellently loyal hygienist Mrs Convoy, so when one suddenly pops up, our cumudgeonly protagonist is angry.
After interrogating his colleagues, Paul decides to try and get the site taken down. However he soon finds himself on Facebook and Twitter too, and realises he is in a quandary as how to make the people around him believe he isn’t the one responsible. He begins to question if his online persona is better than the real version.
From the blurb one would think that this would be full of humour but sadly it was not the comical journey we were expecting and sadly this book isn’t about the addictions of the Internet and the way we are perceived on Social Media either. Although the novel deals with Pauls need to belong to something, showing the way he seems to become obsessed and eager to please the family of all his previous girlfriends, it also deals with issues of religion. Centring more on Judaism, and what it’s like to be Jewish, it asks deep questions about the meaning of life and the existence of God. The religious aspects of the storyline (of which there is an awful lot) seemed to overshadow the humour seen earlier in the novel and endless passages of a religious nature made it somewhat of a chore to read.
Whilst undeniably intelligent with elements of humour, the characters just didn’t seem well formed enough, or likeable. What you have here is a convoluted novel that is better suited to people who like books that deal with religion and bigger questions of life. So not really what it says on the tin!
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is published by Little, Brown and Company and is available for the Kindle from Amazon.co.uk (RRP £12.99) The print edition is available from all good book shops (RRP £12.99)