April 23, 2021

Book Beat: To Rise Again At a Decent Hour

Dentistry, the Red Sox and religion figure prominently in “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour,” a brilliantly written novel by Joshua Ferris, but be forewarned that this is not a spy novel, romance or science fiction confection. This is serious writing with big ideas and a quirky, smart use of words. There are long passages that remind me of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” if Leopold Bloom were comically ruminating on the internet, Facebook, Twitter and me-machines (smart phones.)

As Dr. Paul O’Rourke searches for love, for meaning in his dental work, for a cultural world to belong to, for the boundaries of his belief or unbelief and yearns for a Red Sox championship, he is sought out by a group insisting he is a member of an obscure religioius/cultural sect called the Ulms in the Middle East.

You may want to take a chance on this weirdly wonderful book which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and was a National Book Award finalist, but it may not be appropriate fare for the beauty salon, the bus or your dentist’s waiting room.

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