AWAIT YOUR REPLY by Dan Chaon

Book Quote:

I myself, В from the very beginning,
Seemed to myself like someone’s dream or delirium
Or a reflection in someone else’s mirror,
Without flesh, without meaning, without a name.
Already I knew the list of crimes
That I was destined to commit.

–ANNA AKHMATOVA
“Northern Elegies”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (SEPT 2, 2009)

This book is a great read. You’ll not be wanting to put it down. However, this book is as much a philosophy book as it is a novel. It asks the epistomological question “How do we know?” It also asks very far-reaching metaphysical questions such as “Who are we?” –”Are we really who we think we are?” –”Can we change who we are?”– and — “If we change, then who do we become?”

The book focuses on three main characters and the chapters go back and forth in time with at least one of the main characters appearing in each of the chapters. The novel grapples with the concept of the characters’ identities and the fluency with which these identities change. Each of the characters desires identity change and with these changes, the reader gets caught up in the drama and possibly will get confused with the plot. That is the author’s intention, for in flux, nothing remains the same and it is difficult to keep up with rapid change.

The novel starts off with three chapters about different characters that appear unrelated at first. Later on in the novel, the reader will be able to see the connections between the different characters. Ryan is a college student who has walked away from his college in a mysterious way. As the book opens, he is on the way to the hospital with his father, Jay. Ryan has lost his hand in some type of accident. As the novel progresses, we realize that Ryan was adopted and that the people who raised him are not his biological parents. Jay is his biological father and he has contacted him in order to develop a relationship. Together, they travel to Las Vegas and engage in multiple financial transactions.

The second main character in the story is Lucy. She is a high school student who is bored with her small town and is having an affair with her teacher, a charismatic man named George. George takes her to a remote area in Nebraska and grooms her to become his accomplice in identity change. Lucy realizes that George is not who he seems to be and that she may have gotten into more than she had originally bargained for.

The third main character in this novel is Miles. Miles has spent years trying to find his twin brother, Hayden, who may be schizophrenic. Hayden disappeared out of thin air and Miles has been trying fruitlessly to find him. Hayden, however, is a master in identity switching and hiding from his brother despite Ryan hiring private investigators to find him.

All the characters are involved in identity switching. Patience is required of the reader because the story is not told in chronological order. Time sequences merge and change and it is not until the end of the book that everything comes together.

This book is a fun and challenging read in the best sense. The novel’s flux and flow in time, along with its philosophical bent, make for a fascinating narrative. For people who like compelling, fun and complex reading, this book is a good choice. The book is about the nature of being and identity. It asks some very difficult questions and, though the story is told through novel form, its contents are philosophically deep and, in essence, a tribute to metaphysics and epistomology.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 196 readers
PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books (August 25, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Dan Chaon
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More on identity:

Or identiy theft:

Bibliography:


September 2, 2009 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: ,  В· Posted in: Contemporary, Unique Narrative

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