Day 719: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Cover for To Rise Again at a Decent HourThe descriptions I’ve read of this book in reviews and on the cover don’t really do a good job of conveying what it is like, and I’m afraid mine won’t be any better. Still, I’ll give it a try.

Paul O’Rourke is a rather neurotic New Yorker, a middle-aged dentist who loves the Red Sox. He wants to belong to something so badly that his desire has messed up his two most significant relationships. Each time, he has fallen madly for his girlfriend’s family—the first a close-knit Catholic family whom he offended by announcing he was an atheist, the second a close-knit Jewish family he tried to impress by his research into the Holocaust.

Paul feels he needs to engage more with life but instead engages less. He records and watches baseball games and eats take-out and does little else except worry about how little his patients floss. At least, that’s all he’s done since he and Connie, his office manager, broke up.

Although Paul texts, he does not use other Internet technology, so he is surprised when someone puts up a web site for his dental practice. He immediately contacts the designers of the site and asks them to take it down. Soon, someone is posting odd messages about a group called Ulm on the site and has also started a Facebook page and Twitter feed in his name.

Rather than simply working through a lawyer, Paul engages with this other “Paul” in long philosophical arguments by text. Soon Paul’s other self is trying to get him to visit his “homeland” in the Negev desert.

This novel creates a distinct personality in Paul as well as a fair amount of humor. I enjoyed it even though I thought many of the discussions were gratuitous and the plot a bit whacky.

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