I started this, read about ten pages, then put it down for 6 months because, well MEDICINE. But I am so glad I picked it up again, because this book is hilarious, incredibly thought provoking and utterly captivating.
Paul, the main protagonist, is an immensely unlikeable dentist. His inability to maintain or even properly engage in a relationship of any sort is frustrating, his total ennui towards life in general puts my teeth on edge (though I shall never again forget to floss, so…), and his disdain for religion and his colleagues downright rude. And yet, for all these flaws, one really does start to sympathise with him when suddenly his entire identity is peeled from his control by an unknown internet stalker who not only takes over his identity on the Web, but leaves him questioning his history, linking him to a mysterious group called the ‘Ulms’.
Parts of this novel read like a well written and more interesting Da Vinci Code (a resemblance that I am sure was intentionally tongue-in-cheek), and apart from a lot of baseball talk which I was never going to understand, it had me transfixed, particularly in its rendition of conversations between Paul and his indomitable hygienist, Betsy Conroy. Rarely do we see Paul’s responses to her vehement Catholicism, but we can still know almost exactly what he is saying, which only adds to the humour.
I really adored this book once I had broken into it, and as Paul transitions into an almost likeable human being, I found myself willing him on. I shall certainly be seeking out more of Joshua Ferris’s work, and would urge everyone to read this fantastic book.