To Rise Again at A Decent Hour

To Rise Again at A Decent Hour

A Novel

Book - 2014
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After noticing his identity has been stolen and used to create various social media accounts, a man with a troubled past, Paul O'Rourke, begins to wonder if his virtual alter ego is actually a better version of himself.
"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" --
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, and Company, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316033978
Characteristics: 337 pages ;,25 cm


From the critics

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Apr 19, 2017

It started out with promise but two things that bore me to tears are sports and religion.

Who wants to be trapped inside the mind of a stereotypical angst filled narcissistic obsessive compulsive wannabe Jewish dentist? I was screaming "get over yourself already".

Found myself skimming over huge sections searching for entertaining dialogue.
I hung in for a long time hoping he'd kill himself but finally tossed it.
Didn't feel I deserved the punishment of sticking with him until the end.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour got off to a surprisingly good start. With the humor and depth of O'Rourke's character and the intrigue of who is stealing his identity and why, this book was so much fun. Philosophical and theological rants bog down the second half, but the characters remain strong throughout.

Sep 20, 2015

How much you enjoy a train traveling at 100mph depends on whether you are inside watching the more interesting landscape going by slowly or outside watching the train go by in a blur. Such is the case with the introduction to the protagonist via his entire train of thought unleashed at you rapidly to start the novel.

If you manage to stay on board, you get to know the character - an Irish NYC Dentist wallowing in existential angst not having found any sense of belonging or connection with anything he has tried - from baseball fandom to personal relationships. The reader is exposed to so many different inner thoughts that parts of it are guaranteed to resonate (primarily with guys) who may hence like the novel while parts of it will turn-off others (primarily gals). He is alternately witty, snarky, nit-picky and observant (but not perceptive).

The advertised premise is an interesting one - someone steals his identity to create an online persona which might be a better version of him rather than trying to destroy him. It turns out to be just a small means to an end to lend a voice to the alter ego. The book is more about religion or lack of in the protagonist's search for connections and places to belong. To support this, the author assembles a work-family - a Catholic mother figure as a hygienist, a Jewish spouse figure as his office manager and ex-girfriend, a daughter figure as an assistant who like daughters of certain age refuses to talk to him and he has no clue as to what she is thinking.

The problem with the book is that the characters are just props for a kitchen sink of ideas and thoughts thrown at you none of which are explored with any depth or insight. The questions aren't very original either. Is the belief in God critical to a religion? Can atheism be a religion too with a core belief of doubting existence of God? Does fandom for a sports team (or in the current generations could be to a corporation like Apple) a substitute to provide the same sense of belonging that religion does? In the end, he just punts on any of the promising themes/questions raised in the novel as if the author himself lost the plot amidst all the ideas thrown about or just ran out of steam in coming up with more ideas.

It is an interesting book to read but is not satisfying like listening to a soloist whose style is to play as many notes as he can, as fast as he can. The good notes don't linger long enough to pleasure and the bad notes go away too quickly to be irritated by. Just as one starts to see a promising riff develop, it is suddenly replaced by something else in another direction. The audience can appreciate the mastery of the instrument but the performance can leave you cold at the end.

Jul 04, 2015

I absolutely loved this book. Joshua Ferris is has a sharp wit and illustrative word, which he packs with intense fictional and historical concepts. I looked forward to every moment I was able to return to this book, until the last word. Enjoy.

Jun 25, 2015

Engaging,entertaining and wickedly funny.

'I was already at one remove before the Internet came along. I need another remove? Now I spend the time that I'm not doing the things they're doing reading about them doing it? Streaming all the clips of them doing it, commenting on how lucky they are to be doing all those things, liking and digging and bookmarking and posting and tweeting all those things, and feeling more disconnected than ever? Where does this idea of greater connection come from? I've never in my life felt more disconnected. It's like how the rich ger richer. The connected get more connected while the disconnected get more disconnected.'

And therein lies Paul O'Rourke's lifelong dilemna - to feel connected to something, anything -baseball, Catholicism, Judaism....but not through the digital medium. Instead he craves real liife face to face connections - to be part of a group or extended family. This desire to belong gets him into some hilarious situations, as his eagerness to belong is misread.
Paul O'Rourke is also having to deal with an online intruder who is posing as Paul O'Rourke. This online impersonator has started a website for Paul's dental practice and is posting 'biblical gobbledygook' comments onliine under Paul's name. And Paul needs to get to the bottom of who is doing this and why?

A great novel that portrays the current state of affairs in the world where technology rules supreme and the existence of God is questioned. I loved that Joshua Ferris has in the context of this novel given atheism a God that tells them to doubt his existence - brilliant concept.

I was disappoimted by the ending which I felt was weak. Overall though this was an enjoyable read. (less)

May 20, 2015

I ended up liking this book much more than I expected to. It's hilariously funny, and as the story deepens, you realize that the main character who seems unlikeable and misanthropic (albeit funny), actually has depths of feeling that make him more human and more interesting.

Apr 25, 2015

Meh. Couldn't finish this book which says a lot right there. Take a pass on this one. Full review is here:

Mar 01, 2015

started it but did not like it --kinda of a farce

Maxwell100 Feb 16, 2015

No silly

Dec 29, 2014

I read through to the beginning of chapter 4 and then gave up. I found every aspect of the book to be thoroughly unpleasant: misogynistic/psychopathic narrator, more detail than I need about dentistry, utterly depressing outlook. Decided it wasn't worth my time to read on in hope that something meaningful would develop.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

Of course I alienate myself from society. It's the only way I know of not being constantly reminded of all the ways I'm alienated from society.

Dec 12, 2015

Everything was always something, but something - and here was the rub - could never be everything. A commitment to healthy patients and an afternoon mochaccino and pizza Fridays just couldn't be everything. The banjo couldn't be everything, either unfortunately. Streaming movies directly to the TV was almost everything when first available, but soon fell off to just barely something. The Red Sox had been everything for a long time, but they disappointed me in the end. The greatest disappointment of my adult life came in 2004, when the Yankees and won the World Series. For two months of one summer, I thought golf could be everything... So work, fun, total dedication to something bigger than myself, something greater - my work, golf, the Red Sox - none could be everything, even if each, at times, filled the hour perfectly. p5-6.

Jun 25, 2015

Options are important. With options came freedom, and having kids would nullify those options and restrict that freedom, and I wondered if I would resent them for it. I didn’t want to resent my kids for a decision entirely my own, the one I’d made to bring them into the world. Too many people already felt such a resentment. They’d bring their kids into the shop, and you could see it in their harried, hateful eyes.

Jun 25, 2015

You are too much in your own head, trying to unravel the mysteries. Sometimes they make you despair and you give up hope. However, there’s nothing wrong with being in your head. In your head, with your thoughts, you live a rich and complex life, full of anxieties and regrets, yes, but also tenderness, and fancy, and unspoken sympathy for others. There is a lot of emotion coursing through you at any given moment of the day, and maybe nobody knows it because nobody can read your mind, but if they only knew, they would say, He’s alive, all right, he’s alive. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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