Last year, Dave Eggers poked into our obsession with social media; this year, he digs deeper into our social culture and expectations. Some of the more poignant moments of YOUR FATHERS ask why our fellow humans are so easily discarded. As Eggers’s writes here, “preconceptions about those closest to us and our willingness to dismiss the random contacts in our lives.” Also, what happens when we don’t get what we want, especially instantly, or being “prepared for a life that does not exist.”
Down below I’ll include a minor spoiler (I’ll warn you ahead of time) about the people Thomas captures and holds hostage. Thomas is a timely character, reminding me much of what we’ve seen from California’s virgin killer. It is a testament to the product of our society: instant gratification without hard work and what happens when those imagined wants/needs do not materialize.
The people being held (no spoilers yet) each attribute to Thomas’s fact finding mission. Each represents the people who are our heroes, our role models, and our protectors. Each shows how different people respond to life’s givings, whether we are prepared for them or not.
Now, here’s something else interesting: this book is entirely written in dialogue. Not a bit of narrative. This demonstrates Eggers’s ability to carry a story, including providing description of location and movement, all within conversation. Each chapter labels the particular building; each em-dash separates the speaker. Never is it listed who is doing the talking, but it is clear throughout.
MINOR SPOILER NEXT PARAGRAH
This isn’t a big spoiler; there’s much deeper material to discover. Here are the people Thomas kidnaps for his inquisition: an astronaut, a congressman, a former teacher, his own mother, a police officer, an attractive woman. One leads to another, but you can imagine the line of questioning in regards to what Thomas expects out of life. As the congressman point out, there are many men (and women) like Thomas: expecting, wanting, and upset when not obtaining. This is a nice mix of people to demonstrate what it is like to work hard, not get exactly what we want, and making the best out of life. And here’s one more twist in the plot: Thomas’s friend had been shot and killed. For it all, Thomas wants answers.
END OF SPOILER
Dave Eggers has created an excellent novel. At times, it is reminiscent of King’s MISERY, but with a much larger social grasp and critique. It is well written and captivating. You’ll be left with plenty to ponder at its many turns throughout.
Thank you to the folks at Knopf for sharing this galley with me for review. I’m looking forward to the conversations this book will produce.