Friday, July 28, 2017

Dave Eggers - Heroes Of The Frontier (Penguin, 2016) *

What is wrong with Dave Eggers? He is one of those authors whose quality of writing decreases with the years, as if he has nothing more to say, both in terms of content and stylistically. If you have read "You Shall Know Our Velocity" and "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", you will have been thrilled by the fresh approach to writing, to the wonderful characters and stories in the books. Then somehow he started to lose his power and freshness, and he thought it was a good moment to start changing the world by adding societal messages in his literature, which is not a good idea unless you are a truly great writer. "What Is The What", brought the interesting story of an Sudanese refugee in the US. "Zeitoun" brought the story of Syrian building contractor in the wake of hurricane Katrina who gets incarcerated. These books are still palpable by his accusation of injustice in the world, and even if I fully agree with his viewpoints, that does not make great literature. 

"Heroes of the Frontier" brings the story of a mother who flees to Canada with her two children, away from a malpractice lawsuit as a dentist, away from her husband, away from the life as she had known it, on the run for life itself so it seems. The only problem is: nothing happens. The people she meets are friendly, her kids understand the situation and don't rebel. They meet people, and deal with every circumstances of finding a place for their van, or a place to eat. There are no male predators on the lose, no bears lurking in the bushes, no criminals intent on stealing her stuff, and even the kids can wander around without any risk. There is no tension, no conflict, no anticipation, no expectation. There is no cynicism, no humour, nothing absurd, nothing bizarre. There are no deep insights, no changes of character, no entertaining dialogues, no stylistic wizardry. There is nothing that fuels the reader's mind to keep reading. I did finish the novel though, and I wonder why in retrospect.

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