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To Rise Again at a Decent Hour [Kindle Edition]

Joshua Ferris
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Book Description

*** Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2014 and Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014 ***

'The Catch-22 of dentistry' Stephen King

Joshua Ferris's dazzling new novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is about the meaning of life, the certainty of death, and the importance of good oral hygiene.

There's nothing like a dental chair to remind a man that he's alone in the world . . .

Paul O'Rourke - dentist extraordinaire, reluctant New Yorker, avowed atheist, disaffected Red Sox fan, and a connoisseur of the afternoon mochaccino - is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity.

So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual 'Paul' might be a better version of the man in the flesh . . .

'Frenetic, very funny, it confirms Ferris as a rising star of American fiction' Mail on Sunday

'Glorious . . . A very, very funny novel' BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

'Dismayingly funny in the way that only really serious books can be' Guardian

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He is the author of Then We Came to the End (2007), which was nominated for the National Book Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and The Unnamed. In 2010 he was selected for the New Yorker's prestigious '20 under 40' list. In 2014 To Rise Again At A Decent Hour won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Joshua Ferris lives in New York.

Product Description


Funny, thought-provoking, and touching. One hesitates to call it the CATCH-22 of dentistry, but it's sort of in that ballpark. Some books simply carry you along on the strength and energy of the author's invention and unique view of the world. This is one of those books (Stephen King)

Smart, sad, hilarious and eloquent . . . a writer at the top of his game and surpassing the promise of his celebrated debut (Kirkus)

This is one of the funniest, saddest, sweetest novels I've read since Then We Came to the End. When historians try to understand our strange, contradictory era, they would be wise to consult To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. It captures what it is to be alive in early 21st-century America like nothing else I've read (Anthony Marra)

Very funny [and] highly entertaining . . . Josh Ferris is a gifted satirist and very much in touch with the fear and paranoia that undercut US society (Irish Times)

Joshua Ferris has proved his astonishing ability to spin gold from ordinary air . . . As brave and adept as any writer out there (New York Times Book Review)

Geek-smart prose and wry humour . . . hilarious (Economist)

Genuine, funny, tragic and never dull. It'll also leave you flossing with a vengeance (GQ)

It's a pleasure watching this young writer confidently range from the registers of broad punchline comedy to genuine spiritual depth . . . There's a happy side effect to reading the novel, as well: If you're a backslider like I was, it will guilt you into flossing again (Wall Street Journal)

An engrossing and hilariously bleak novel about a dentist being shook out of his comfortable atheism . . . This splintering of the self hasn't been performed in fiction so neatly since Philip Roth's "Operation Shylock' (Boston Globe)

Ferris [is] a Virgil of the disaffected . . . This is the novel's peculiar brilliance, to uncover its existential stakes in the most mundane tasks (LA Times)

Laugh-out-loud hilarious, combining Woody Allen's New York nihilism with an Ivy League vocabulary (Booklist)

Returns Ferris to the comedy of the workplace . . . his writing is so fresh and modern - a comedian's sense of timing mixed with a social critic's knack for shaking the bushes (Interview Magazine)

Funny and surprisingly moving (Glamour)

It is completely wonderful . . . Good god he is talented (Sarah Jessica Parker)

Enormously impressive: profoundly and humanely engaged with the mysteries of belief and disbelief . . . dismayingly funny in the way that only really serious books can be (Guardian)

Brilliant . . . witty . . . passages of flashing comedy that sound like a stand-up theologian suffering a nervous breakdown (Washington Post)

Joshua Ferris excels at mordantly comic novels about ordinary people in crisis . . . he writes with brio about the modern condition (Metro)

Compelling but never cheap, inventive but never obscure . . . Ferris has secured his status as exactly the sort of mainstream literary novelist American fiction needs (Independent on Sunday)

A hoot . . . There's a tincture of Pynchonian paranoia à la The Crying of Lot 49 here, and a dash, too, of the kitchen-sink comic winsomeness that the Dave Eggers generation brought to US literary fiction (FT)

Glorious . . . A very, very funny novel. If misanthropy's going to come from anywhere it's from a lifetime's confrontation with halitosis (BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review)

This is fierce, pithy, unforgiving satire, taking a sledgehammer to all-American cracker-barrel homeliness. Its comic energy is fuelled by disgust and exasperation, in the tradition of Roth and Heller and John Kennedy O'Toole. But Ferris is also a dab hand at more delicate humour, every bit as contemporary . . . Ferris is very funny . . . His voice is unique (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

Joshua Ferris has been heralded as one of America's sharpest observers of 21st-century life and, reading his third novel, it's easy to see why. To Rise Again At A Decent Hour has the immediacy and the trenchant satire of a brilliant stand-up routine as well as the big ideas and the in-depth research of a brilliant academic paper (Express)

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is a funny novel, by turns ha-ha, peculiar and, like O'Rourke himself, suspended between heaven and earth (Independent)

About the Author

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He is the author of Then We Came to the End (2007), which was nominated for the National Book Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and The Unnamed. In 2010 he was selected for the New Yorker's prestigious '20 under 40' list. He lives in upstate New York.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 810 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H7O87H0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,764 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He is the author of Then We Came to the End (2007), which was nominated for the National Book Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and The Unnamed. In 2010 he was selected for the New Yorker's prestigious '20 under 40' list. He lives in upstate New York.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ulms and Uhms. 23 Jun. 2014
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Like everyone around him, Paul O'Rourke is totally dependent on his 'me-machine' - his phone - yet he professes to despise technology, refusing even to have a website for his successful Park Avenue dental practice. When an unknown person launches a site for his business, Paul is deeply disturbed and this is further exacerbated when his alter-ego starts tweeting bizarre religious messages in his name. Identity theft or schizophrenia? And which is the more scary?

Joshua Ferris is a fine writer and I loved his debut about office life: And Then We Came to the End. Here, Ferris seems to be wanting to say something deeply significant about God, religion and atheism but he goes about it in a rather weird way. He invents (I assume invents) a heretofore unknown religious group called the Ulms who believe in doubt. (Perhaps he should have called them the Uhms.)

This is an intriguing proposition but unfortunately Ferris proceeds in a manner that rather reminded me of Howard Jacobson at his most long-winded, particularly the over-rated Booker-winning 'The Finkler Question' and the narrative seems to lose focus and purpose. There is much talk of cantonments and Cantaveticles, Amalekites and sundry lost biblical tribes. Rather a shame as the initial premise had been so promising but Ferris treats the reader to some rather wonderful jokes along the way.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts so well but then loses its way 14 Oct. 2014
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
I am struggling to write a review of this book. I am struggling to even summarise the plot. It's about Paul O'Rourke, a misanthropic dentist in his late 30s. His childhood was traumatic and his three serious relationships have all ended in disaster. He has a fascination with religion and a yearning for the sense of belonging that it represents, but he is also a devout atheist.

One day Paul discovers that someone has set up a website for his dentistry practice. Whoever has done it knows things about him that he has never shared with anyone. Gradually, "Paul O'Rourke" builds an online presence, mostly talking about a long ago people called the Amalekites who appeared in Genesis as arch enemies of the Jewish people. He is also contacted by someone who insists that he is in fact a descendant of the Amalekites himself.

This is a very uneven book in tone. It starts out being quite light-hearted, even laugh out loud funny. Paul is prone to very long rants about what he sees as being the problems in the world. At times paragraphs can go for five pages in length. I kept skipping through these and then realising that a revelation was buried in the middle and having to go back and re-read sections. I really enjoyed the first third of the book.

However then it gets bogged down with the history of the Amalekites and Paul's thoughts on religion. I read a review online where the reviewer said that they gave up on it around page 175, and there were several moments after that when I thought wistfully how much time they had saved. The parts I liked the most were the impact of everything that was happening on the people that Paul works with, but this was only a small part of the story.

I didn't hate this book, but I am baffled by a world in which this makes the Booker Prize shortlist and The Goldfinch doesn't even get nominated. For me, this book was entirely forgettable.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better.... 19 Jun. 2014
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Paul O’Rourke runs a successful New York dental practice, where he makes plenty of money but finds himself alone and without meaning in his life. An atheist, he still yearns for a religious community to be part of. Single and still in love with his ex-girlfriend, he longs to connect with other people but finds himself adrift. Searching for something larger and beyond his day-to-day existence, he soon tires of everything he tries.
Then one day his life is turned upside down when he discovers that he has an online stalker, a mysterious figure who sets up a web site for the practice and opens a Facebook page and a Twitter account in Pauls’ name, and starts to use Paul’s identity to proselytise for an obscure religious sect called the Ulms, the secret descendants of the Amalekites, a lost biblical tribe. Paul is desperate to find out who is doing this to him, and why. What happens next is both unexpected and intriguing.
This original and very funny novel is immensely engaging and thought-provoking. Paul is a wonderful character, and his frustrations with the modern world will strike a chord with many readers. Ferris has an acute ear for the way real people talk, and there are some wonderful passages of dialogue. The descriptions of Paul and his dentistry and the parade of wonderfully sketched in patients who come to consult him are a real joy. And Paul’s own existential quest to find meaning in his life makes him understandable and empathetic. There’s so much that is very good indeed about this quirky and unconventional novel and at first I really loved it.
Unfortunately, it weakens the further on it goes. The biblical part about the Ulms becomes tedious after a while, and some of Paul’s adventures become less believable.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
A quarter through, I'd have given this 5 stars. At the end, I'd have said 3. So I've compromised and it's really a 3.5 star read for me.

So much promise - Dr Paul O'Rourke is a wonderful creation. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the world of the dentist through his self-absorbed eyes. He's a bundle of contradictions - hating technology but can't live without his 'me-machine' (phone), avowed atheist but willing to consider religion for a woman. A complex character, Paul is a successful dentist but not a success with women, who he gets obsessed with and then can't live without when the relationship fails. He observes strict rituals for each Red Sox game he watches.

This techno-hater is affronted one day to discover that someone has created (without permission) a website for his dental practice. And is starting to spout opinions under the name of Dr Paul O'Rourke. These opinions seem to have a religious bent and Paul drives himself mad searching for the culprit. Why is someone doing this to him? And what are these Ulms they talk about?

This is where it started losing its interest for me. I was quite happy to follow Paul in his quirky little world. I wasn't interested in some quasi-religious plot. Paul kept me reading but I didn't enjoy it as much after that.

I just didn't quite understand what Ferris was trying to do with Paul. Religious conspiracies aren't my cup of tea and I didn't like how the author pushed Paul through the story.

There is lots throughout to enjoy. Paul's past entanglements with women are fun. His scenes in the surgery are hilarious. He frequently forgets what he's doing and says unusual things to staff and customers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Improved oral hygiene
I am currently reading this. I think it is a bit of a mess as a novel but I have been flossing religiously since the first chapter.
Published 7 days ago by Elizabeth A. Dunn
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly a good book
Read this for book club and I was one of the few who persevered to the end. Some good ideas;some good lines but messy and no through line of narrative. Read more
Published 9 days ago by white rose
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this the best Booker has to offer?
I have to say that I'm really sorry I paid out good money for this book. . How it reached the Booker Short list I cannot imagine. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Roger Hoare
4.0 out of 5 stars Risen again at a early hour on Thursday.
Well written and caused me to think me to think how quick your life is and how it can change with one bad review of your life or business. Remember he opens late on Thursday
Published 20 days ago by Jambro
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Terrible terrible book. Awful character and a pointless story.
Published 21 days ago by chubbysky
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Well written, with some interesting insights, but the plot was a bit too bizarre for me.
Published 22 days ago by book_lover
1.0 out of 5 stars painfully disappointing
I stuck with it, hoping it would get better, but it just got more and more vague. The bits that were funny, were good sharp funny, and yes it did make you think about life etc, but... Read more
Published 25 days ago by M T Gillis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read although I found the secondary plot involving religion became a bit tedious.
Published 27 days ago by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as a present.
Published 27 days ago by Neville Dilkes
1.0 out of 5 stars Too few tame jokes to redeem a boring story, flooded with many...
I bought it in my quest to keep the high street bookstores in business (and because it was under the offer - "buy one get the second half price"). Read more
Published 28 days ago by Marin P
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