Monday, September 01, 2014

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

'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 . . .
I finished Weekend Wodehouse when I was on the recline exercise bike this morning, so I have been looking around for something else. Amazon has recommended To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, of which I have never previously heard. It is unlikely that unaided I would make my way to 'the Catch-22 of dentistry' though I see it has been long listed for the Man Booker. Also Weekend Wodehouse contained The Fiery Wooing of Mordred, which begins in a dentist's waiting room, and a scene from Summer Lightning set similarly. Perhaps the universe, or Steve Bezos (the terms are essentially interchangeable these days), is sending me a message.

The short list for the Man Booker will be out on September 9 so I imagine I will have something to say about Joshua Ferris's inclusion or exclusion when the day dawns.
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