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.
~Goodreads page summary~
I held great anticipation for this novel and I found myself not quite disappointed more along the lines of subtly let down.
Meet Paul O’Rouke, a NY dentist, unsure of God, a full blown Boston Red Sox fanatic and an internet skeptic. He discovers his online identity stolen which snowballs into Paul questioning his beliefs leading to a existential crisis in a queer manner. Much about himself is discovered on his soul searching sojourn. Bizarre, funny, sensitive and brilliant.
Woody Allen continually came to mind as I read O’Rouke’s story. At times I laughed but often found the humor dry bland and somewhat boring. In fact the intellectual brilliance of this gem is overshadowed by the rambling, acutely descriptive narrative. The description of hair tied into a scrunchie is a train wreck, a complete derailment of the cerebral content played by Ferris from this never ending exceedingly vivid pictorial. On the other hand, Paul’s anti-internet stance is laugh out loud funny, he’s downright agnostic with the online world.
“I was already at one remove before the Internet came along. I need another remove? Now I have to spend the time that I’m not doing the thing they’re doing reading about them doing it? Streaming 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 get richer. The connected get more connected while the disconnected get more disconnected. No thanks man, I can’t do it. The world was a sufficient trial, Betsy, before Facebook.”
I enjoyed Paul with his narcissistic personality and his failure at basic social skills. Warts and all, Ferris brought a spark to Paul resuscitating a character tethering on suffocating, creating endearment. Ferris undoubtedly possesses great command of dialog which is evident in Paul’s voice.
Ferris was on to something really wonderful, however, his grip was lost with excessive word nonsense leaving the reader with a strong sense of disproportionate feelings toward the full reading experience. Not Ferris’ best effort, mediocre at arms length.