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Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?by Dave Eggers
This book is a series of conversations — dialogue only — between a guy and the various people he has kidnapped and shackled in separate buildings. Slowly you discover who he is and why he's done what he's done. Weird and intriguing, it's one of the most thought-provoking and engaging books I've read in a while.
Synopses & Reviews
From Dave Eggers, best-selling author of The Circle, a tightly controlled, emotionally searching novel. Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is the formally daring, brilliantly executed story of one man struggling to make sense of his country, seeking answers the only way he knows how.
In a barracks on an abandoned military base, miles from the nearest road, Thomas watches as the man he has brought wakes up. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn't recognize his captor, though Thomas remembers him. Kev cries for help. He pulls at his chain. But the ocean is close by, and nobody can hear him over the waves and wind. Thomas apologizes. He didn't want to have to resort to this. But they really needed to have a conversation, and Kev didn't answer his messages. And now, if Kev can just stop yelling, Thomas has a few questions.
"Composed entirely of dialogue, the latest from Eggers (The Circle) is more tedious deposition than gripping drama. The novel is set on an abandoned military base along the Pacific coast, where Thomas, a troubled man, is interrogating a diverse group of chained captives. Frustrated by his lack of purpose and in search of answers about injustices large and small, Thomas kidnaps Kev, a driven astronaut who represents 'the one fulfilled promise' he's ever known. This first interview inspires Thomas to seek out further captives: an ex-congressman, a policeman, a disgraced schoolteacher, his own mother and others. Depending on the prisoner, Thomas is respectful or abusive, solicitous or prosecutorial, but he never wavers in his view of himself as a 'moral' and 'principled man.' He is outraged at the abuses, shortsightedness, and skewed priorities of the government and its institutions, yet yearns for that government to provide him with some defining role or plan: 'Don't we deserve grand human projects that give us meaning?' As for the captives, they generally respond to their unhinged interrogator with sententious or stilted speechifying: 'Thomas, you want to attribute your behavior to a set of external factors.' There are flashes of sardonic humor and revelations about the triggering event behind the kidnappings, but by then readers will feel as if they themselves have been detained far too long. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Jun.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Joan Didion began her career chronicling a certain ennui afflicting Californians coming up in the Vietnam era who were quickly losing faith in the society their parents created....The sense of a similar void animates Dave Eggers' new novel, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?...Eggers has a knack for potent images of frustration....So soon after Elliot Rodger's California massacre, Eggers has produced something timely. There is a book to be written about angry young white men turning against a society that isn't giving them what they think they're owed." Chicago Tribune
"Hard not to be affected by his charm and literary DIY....We begin with Thomas, a confused young man who has drugged and kidnapped a NASA astronaut named Kev. Thomas is a mixed-up psychopath and arsonist who previously has attempted to burn down a hospital after his mentally disturbed best friend, Don Banh, was killed in a police shooting....Working in the tradition of Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Nicholson Baker's Vox, the novel is without description or speaker attribution....Ambitious." The Boston Globe
"The faint echo of Plato's dialogues....Raising questions about the appropriate relationship between authority and compassion." Kirkus
"Engaging....You have to go back to Steinbeck and Vonnegut to find a popular American novelist so willing to deploy his talents to such deliberately political ends....A moral fiction that's as flexible and subtle as any other kind....The dialogue-only structure and depth of feeling in Your Fathers are to its credit. You know what Eggers wants to say, he says it quickly, and he says it with a respectably righteous fury. And, ultimately, he says it with a compassion that's always been present in his work....Fascinating." The Washington Post
"A jazz session — a brief, single helping of strangeness that flaunts his panache for stylistic experimentation....The writing is compelling and the characterization astute." Booklist
"[A] story about someone who takes revenge against the world because he can't fathom how he fits into it....This is a one-sitting read....Insightful." USA Today
"Dave Eggers never writes the same book twice, and his latest may be his most unusual to date....[A] fleet and forceful story by one of our finest fiction writers....The author makes his points in stark exchanges, with little exposition, and the book's spare style propels the reader to the end. Thomas isn't a likeable character, but he's an oddly sympathetic one — or, at least, one who is easy to recognize." San Jose Mercury News
"Have questions for an astronaut and can't get him to answer your letters? You can always kidnap him, drag him to an abandoned military base near Monterey Bay, chain him to a post and threaten another jolt from your friendly Taser if he doesn't cooperate. At least that's the approach taken by 34-year-old Thomas in Dave Eggers' new novel....As is always true with Eggers, those ideas — laid out here in quasi-Socratic dialogue — are inherently interesting. I can think of few contemporary American writers who convey such a sense of urgency about the mess we're in — or how important it is that we, like the Israelites surrounding Zechariah, resurrect the once-glorious Temple. Eggers pulls no punches...Eggers makes these points even as he simultaneously manages empathy for Thomas' plight, as a man who has inherited a fallen world he never made." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
About the Author
Dave Eggers is the author of nine books, including most recently The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine (The Believer). McSweeney's also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the cofounder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country, and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools, and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family.
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