To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

This allegedly comic text is partly spoiled by tedious misogyny. One clue to this is the regular and gratuitous use of the c-word. However, it is not only prudes who will be bored by the anti-feminist postmodern ramblings central to the novel. The dentist anti-hero is an unreconstructed male who is more knowledgeable about molars than anything else. He could almost have stumbled out of the pages of a  Bret Easton Ellis story.

Certainly, there are a few wisecracks about religion to lighten the mood. And there is a primitive critique of capitalism on display. Further, the alienating aspects of modern technology get a reasonable treatment. However, the refusal of the main character to listen to women is remarkably frustrating. People who find visiting the dentist painful might actually prefer to have a tooth out than to read this work to the end. A novelist who does not show their appreciation for personality can be dull.

Obviously, some individuals must have enjoyed this baggy narrative. Nevertheless, other readers might have struggled with the blatant snobbishness evidenced by a disdain for janitors. More seriously, the following digression on getting older is quite nauseating:

“My patient, Bernadette Marder, looked so hideously old, so hideously and prematurely aged since the last time I’d seen her, that all her most stressful and trying years might have been crammed into six months…Her hair had thinned out and just sort of died on the back of her head. A scaly pink meridian divided one limp half from the other. An array of wrinkles, radiating from her pale lips. had deepened and fossilized, and her face sagged.”

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