Sunday, May 1, 2016


Though not his first book, this is Dave Eggers’ first novel, and I hope that the subsequent ones show a little maturity for both the author and his characters.  This is sort of a 21st century version of Kerouac’s On the Road, minus the drugs and alcohol.  Mercifully, it spans only one manic week, but the setting is Senegal, Morocco, Estonia, and Latvia, and that’s worth something—as a travelogue, if nothing else.  Will and his pal Hand are traveling as far as they can in a week and giving away $32,000 in the process.  They become very frustrated at how long it takes to get from point to point, but all in all, they manage to pack quite a lot of activity into a short period of time, doing without sleep or bathing.  The writing style matches the frenetic pace of the story, but I thought it was borderline silly.  Occasionally the characters find themselves in scary situations, but mostly their madcap misadventures are pretty harmless.  There are a few LOL moments, especially when the two guys are reminiscing about their childhood aspiration to grow up to be Hollywood stuntmen.  They continue to practice for this vocation while on the trip, with mixed results.  At the other end of the spectrum, we find that these guys were perpetrators of some pretty serious animal cruelty in their youth, reminding us that they’re not as generous and warm-hearted as we might like to think.  I felt that they were divesting themselves of the money as a way to shed their grief over the death of their buddy Jack.  They do come up with some crazy but creative ideas for how to distribute the money, even as they deliberate as to who is worthy to receive a payout.  Still, a novel about two American guys making fools of themselves in foreign countries, behaving more like adolescents than grown men in their late twenties, is not really my idea of a great read.

No comments: