Paul O'Rourke is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity.
So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual 'Paul' might be a better version...
©2014 Joshua Ferris (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
"Frenetic, very funny, it confirms Ferris as a rising star of American fiction" (Mail on Sunday)
"Dismayingly funny in the way that only really serious books can be" (Guardian)
The description for this novel is misleading. Certainly the protagonist is disgruntled about some anonymous person starting a webpage for his dental practice and then using his identity to post comments on the internet. However, this is not a comedy about a man and his doppelganger and the humour is short lived. The brief descriptions about how the protagonist attempted and failed to find meaning to his life (though golf or baseball, etc.) give way to earnest contemplations about whether it is possible to find fulfilment through adhering to shared (religious) rituals while not accepting fundamental shared belief systems (remaining an atheist).
There's fun passages in the early part of the novel, and the narrator is well-chosen - he gives an appropriate, mostly deadpan, delivery. But the use of unexpected coarse vernacular is jarring, as is the repeated use of "me machines" for smart phones. The novel's increasingly long and tedious passages from a pseudo ancient scripture made me give-up on the audiobook several times.
religious belief necessary?
Yes, beautiful writing. I also read his story in the New yorker a few months ago and was very impressed.
No. But I really enjoyed his reading of this book and would look for other recordings.
The plight of the various dental patients, a microcosm of misery.
Loved the way the dialogue with Mrs Convoy was handled.
Ferris writes very well, but I feel completely baffled by this novel about a dentist who finds himself impersonated on the internet. What is it about? The need for religious community to create a sense of belonging, even when we are non-believers?
I was further baffled by listening to the audio book which seems to be of a previous and longer draft. Interesting to see where cuts were made though.
Reasonably entertaining but strange.
Not really sure what it was all about or whether I liked it. Religion, dentistry, fanaticism, atheism. Hmmm..
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