May 5, 2016

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

I partly don't know what to think of this experimental novel, and partly really enjoyed it. The experimental bit is because it is a novel entirely made of dialogue. There is no description, no narration of any kind. Just two people talking. It sounds rather boring, except when you learn that the two people talking are a kidnapper and the kidnapped. He doesn't want to harm anyone, just wants to talk. He's been writing letters but no one's been answering, and this seemed the only logical way to get his questions heard. I won't say anything more about the story itself since that would ruin it, and I do think this is a book worth picking up. The lack of narration and description allow the reader to build a picture in her own mind of what's happening, and to focus intensely on the emotion and nuance of the dialogue. We have to; there's nothing else to focus on. It's a very quick read (haven't you ever noticed that reading dense, descriptive sections takes much longer than reading the dialogue?) and very hard to put down. And while I don't know that I'd read too many other novels written in a similar fashion, I thoroughly enjoyed this experiment and recommend others try it as well.

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