Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?" by Dave Eggers.

I went back and forth on what I should rate this book, but I decided finally that Dave Egger’s new book Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever, is a five-star book despite the two-star title. I do not know what it is about this book, but it really spoke to me and the kinds of turmoil that I have been experiencing recently. That by no means makes it a book that is for everyone. Even at a brisk 212 pages, this novel composed entirely of spoken dialogue will be grating on some readers, and I do not fault them for that. The plot will also find some detractors, since it takes a dark subject and not only shed light on it but creates sympathy for an action that no one would dare try to do. But Dave Eggers, a polarizing if omnipresent symbol of American fiction who I have come to really respect over the past few years, has created, in my humble opinion, a great addition to the literature of American loneliness and desperation. Through the character of Thomas, and the many people he comes in contact with, Eggers probes a painful and possibly unsolvable problem in human culture. I can’t help but think about the introduction that he wrote for Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and feel that it influenced this book somehow. We meet Thomas, a man whose motives and at are ambiguous at best, as he talks to Kev, an astronaut who has some connection with Kev that he does not recall. Kev has been handcuffed to a post in the barracks of an army base. Thomas promises he won’t hurt him, that he is a moral man and this is the only way he could talk to Kev about what he needs to talk to him about. Soon things escalate when Thomas, clearly a man with a broken heart and delusions of grandeur, begins kidnapping other people from his past under the same circumstances as Kev. It all sounds crazy, but there is a great honesty and grace to the character of Thomas. He is smart and has a kind heart, but seems to be highly disillusioned about the way someone like him, as well as his friend Don, who was shot and killed by police, cannot find a place in the world to hold onto their hopes and dreams. It’s a tragic problem that seems to go unnoticed due to how unsexy and difficult it is to categorize, but Eggers really seems to care about Thomas, and I think if the right kind of reader is able to open their hearts and minds to Thomas’ plight will also come to understand and empathize with him throughout the book, even as the inevitable conclusion comes to fruition and the painful truth of reality rears it’s ugly head. As I said before, it will be hard for some readers to wrap their heads around a concept like this, but I found something really deep and heartfelt in this book, and I hope you do too.

Rating: 5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment