“To Rise Again at a Decent Hour” by Joshua Ferris

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour cover - CopyThe author’s website has this to say about the book:

“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.”

The novel was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and won the 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize.

We read the book in April 2015 and eleven of us attended the meeting. Opinion was sharply divided, with about half our members finding it very enjoyable and the rest not so much. Hilary only read 75 pages before giving up. Unsurprisingly, our scores ranged widely, from a low of 1 to a high of 8. Our overall average was 5.3 (from 11 readers).

Margaret couldn’t attend the meeting but sent her comments by email:

I did not laugh at all, I did not understand what the title had to do with the book.  I started reading and it seemed ok but then it got heavily into the bogus online identity stuff and the connections the main character had through different girl friends with religious groups.  I found it became tedious and uninteresting and had to keep forcing myself to read it.  Not sure if it was all about identity – I suppose it was but by then I didn’t really care.  Some people’s whole ethnicity changed on entering the USA as immigrants due to carelessness or disinterested minor government officials.   So from being Jewish at one point you could become Irish.  I could not see the connection with being a dentist.  I would be interested to see if there was more to it.  I don’t think I want to give it a score.

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