A funny look at the life of the tormented dentist


If you haven’t read it, try to get your hands on To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris. It’s a comic novel that brilliantly encapsulates the quiet despair of many dentists I’ve worked with.

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour

Ferris gets what being a disillusioned dentist is like. His protagonist Paul O’Rourke finds himself well into middle age and single, running a successful Manhattan clinic. He’s got Betsy, the best senior hygienist a dentist could wish for, a swish waiting room and plenty of money, just no idea what the point of it all is.

Overcome with the futility of existence, Paul’s excruciatingly wry mind delivers an amusing tour de force of misanthropic detachment. He can’t stop talking to himself, wondering about things like why it is that women apply hand cream so lewdly in public, why he should be expected to repeat polite conversation with the same three people in his practice every single morning, why he should do anything in fact when, “in the end, the heart stops, the cells die, the neurons go dark…”

Paul’s acerbic reflections on flossing, foreign aid work and his dismay at the rising importance of the internet couldn’t be more on point, and for that reason alone I think you’ll enjoy this book (it’s always nice to feel understood).

Reading it, I kept being reminded of clients who were really lost, who we helped find meaning in their working lives again, sometimes by helping them realise they actually wanted out, or wanted to dramatically reduce the amount of time their practice took from them.

Anyway, have a read – I’m sure it’ll make you chuckle, and if Paul’s outlook strikes you as being particularly close to home, perhaps you could benefit from a serious reappraisal of your priorities. Life’s too good and too short to be miserable.

Call me for a chat if it helps. And enjoy the book!


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