Explore the Nature of Belonging in Joshua Ferris’s “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour”
In Joshua Ferris’s third novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, he ponders the deep questions about the meaning of life and the feeling of belonging somewhere with a biting wit that will have his readers cackling with glee. The novel revolves around a dentist named Paul O’Rourke who absolutely adores the creature comforts of modern life but his inner life is in shambles–his dental practice is failing miserably and he’s still recovering from his father’s suicide.
To make matters worse, an impostor creates social media profiles and starts impersonating him online. While investigating who stole his identity, his search leads him to a shadowy group called the Ulms who are obsessed with genealogy and how it ties in with religion. Although O’Rourke is skeptical of their claims, he finds himself pondering what’s real and what’s not in the virtual world of the Internet.
Even thought the plot is a bit weird at times, Ferris’s humor will keep readers giggling at poor O’Rourke’s plight. In the hands of a lesser author, O’Rourke’s apathy and desire to believe in a God could grate on your nerves, but Ferris’s sarcastic remarks about the nature of religion and how genetics can either prove or disprove many spiritual beliefs make the main character more relatable.
With a snarky wit, Ferris’s novel explores how religion and genealogy give us a sense of belonging. It also looks at how our technology can often make us feel disconnected from our roots and spirituality.