await your reply

Identity is a funny concept.  We all think we know who we are.  But as Dan Chaon’s newly released Await Your Reply shows, identity is not such a sure thing.

Chaon’s cold but compelling novel follows three storylines.  College student Ryan Schuyler’s whole life is shaken when he discovers he was adopted.  High school graduate Lucy Lattimore runs away with her social studies teacher, desperate to escape her small Ohio town.  Miles Cheshire searches for his mentally ill twin brother, who has been in contact only intermittantly over the past decade.

Identity — and its fluidity — is the common thread in all three stories.  Throughout his novel, Chaon shows how our senses of self are built upon seemingly stable factors like history, relationships, and surroundings, but that when cracks appear in these foundations, everything becomes open to interpretation.

Chaon writes his characters intelligently, but distantly — though the reader finds them in vulnerable positions at times, it never seems to be Chaon’s intent to inspire emotion.  Instead, their stories are thoughtful ones, as if the reader is being invited to consider their own questions with them.  And each one certainly has questions.

Though I initially found this detachment off-putting, it becomes far less so further into the novel as each character’s situation grows more pressing and the pieces of the various puzzles start to come together.  The result is a well-crafted and thought-provoking novel that, while clearly written for the head rather than the heart, manages to strike a nerve at just the right moment to make it a distinctively memorable — and admirable — piece of literature.


Shop Indie Bookstores

Advertisements

~ by Molly on August 26, 2009.

One Response to “await your reply”

  1. […] Bookhopping calls Await Your Reply "a well-crafted and thought-provoking novel that, while clearly written for the head rather than the heart, manages to strike a nerve at just the right moment to make it a clearly memorable — and admirable — piece of literature." […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: