In an abandoned military base close to the ocean and far from any town, Thomas watches as the man he has kidnapped comes around. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn’t recognize his captor but Thomas has brought him here for a reason. He didn’t want to resort to chaining him up, but he needs to talk to Kev and this was the only way he could do it. But as Thomas tries to get the answers he so desperately wants, things spiral out of control.
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is the newest novel by Dave Eggers. Written entirely in dialogue, the book is an examination of the issues that are plaguing society today. War, government, sexual abuse, police brutality, and more is covered as Thomas brings more and more people into the fold to figure out where things have gone wrong.
This is a novel where the opinions are all over the map. Some people love it, some are left scratching their heads, and many sit firmly in the middle. I’m one of those people in the middle. I actually haven’t read much by Eggers. Most people I know who have read his work have read everything he has written. I was absolutely amazed by What is the What but the rest of his books, though they sound incredible to me, seem to sit on my to read list.
What drew me to read this book rather than putting it on a list was the way it is written. The fact that it is written entirely in dialogue drew me right in. I was curious to see how well the story could be developed in just this manner. I think this was the perfect subject matter to use this method. Thomas is a troubled man, plagued by many of the problems we face in society today. Unlike most others, he seems to have taken them more to heart and it leaves him doing some pretty terrible things.
While I think that this book was the perfect subject matter to use such a method, it unfortunately left a lot lacking. With What is the What I was blown away by the writing, I found myself absorbed in the story. Here, I was wishing for more interaction, for the people Thomas was talking with to have more to say. I wanted more emotion but was left with very little of it. The plot builds and builds but the emotion does not match it.
Maybe it happened this way for me because I was expecting it to be more plot driven, to be more about the situation itself and about the kidnappings and the people being held hostage. Rather it’s just one man working through his issues. Which is a valid book, especially given the nature of his issues.
At 224 pages, this is not a long book at all. The dialogue method of writing and very short chapters make this a quick read, one that you can read in just one sitting. Given that this is a book that will evoke strong reaction and has people divided on how they feel about it, it’s good that it is short. I think if it were longer, I may not have recommended it. But because of its length, I’m confident in saying you just have to read this for yourself and see where your feelings fall.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.