Jonathan Lee

Open Wide

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour


Viking 337pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Paul O’Rourke, the narrator of Joshua Ferris’s third novel, is a ‘dentist and board-certified prosthodontist’. Each hour spent peering into mouths can be as painful for him as it is for those in his chair. He’s deeply hurt by the fact that, no matter how carefully he attends to his nostrils before hovering over a patient, someone always writes an online review afterwards alleging that he has ‘cave dwellers’. His colleagues give him problems too. There is Connie, his receptionist and former lover, who reminds him of happier times. There is Abby, his dental assistant, whose Bartleby-like silence disturbs his need for control. And significantly there is Betsy, a middle-aged hygienist trying to convert him to Catholicism. Paul’s response to Betsy’s peddling of Christian values finds its best expression in Ferris’s epigraph: ‘“Ha, ha” (Job 39:25)’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,