Bläeckfisk is the Swedish translation for the word octopus. I am not Swedish, but I do own a lot of furniture from Sweden and I like octopuses while admiring their multi-tasking ability. I would like to travel to Sweden at some point, plus I think it is a pretty cool looking word. Anyhow, speaking of words, I guess you could say that is why we are here. Words are the foundation for way we try to wrap our thoughts around everything in the galaxy. The tendrils that lead to emotions and curiosity. I am not here to solve the mysteries of the universe, just to discuss words in general. Specifically words written by other people and have been printed off and slapped between two slices of thin card stock. Many of these sandwiches go on to bigger and better things, some bigger and better than others. So, I guess we will be talking about those as well. If you share an interest in words or enjoi seeing what they can look like in action....välkommen! (Swedish for welcome.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

B2: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (320 pages)

"Eadem mutata resurgo: Although changed, I shall arise the same."

I loved this book. Not just because I tend to have an affinity for books that have a penchant for using Latin quotes (See Meaning of Night by Michael Cox), but for the sheer magnetism of how this story is comprised.   For some reason I have stumbled upon many books as of late in the multi-tale-but-justwaitfortheconnection genre, and this exceptional book by Dan Chaon might just be my favorite thing I have read all year.

 The book and title center around a common junk email scam that I am sure many of us have at one point or another have seen float across our electronic mail boxes. The email is from an unknown author from a African country that has been bequeathed a large sum of money that if only you can secure a bank account, will lead to a fat slice of this sum magically appearing in the account you have created. I have had an email like this sent to me, making the outline of this story all the more believable.

The story unfolds with three simultaneous plots that in no way can seem to be possibly perpendicular, up until the very end. I commend the author for the sheer genius of being able to find a way to do this without convoluting his novel with many unnecessary pages of plodding details or unimportant characters throughout the story. Hayden and Miles are twins, and while Hayden has been missing for years, cryptic letters keep showing up at Mile’s house, taunting him into continuing his search for his missing brother.  Lucy, age 19, has just fled her home podunk town somewhere in the middle of Ohio in search of a more exciting existence.  Her chosen partner in crime on this journey, is non other than her high school Math teacher, George Orson. Finally, we have Ryan. Ryan is on the run due to his numerous involvements with credit card scams set up by his father, Jay. 

All three of these subplots share the notion of self reinvention, which to me is really fascinating. How people can one day live as someone, then completely step into another character, as if it were as easy as pulling on a new sweater, is amazing. I highly recommend checking this book out, and wish you good luck in putting all the pieces together. You will not be disappointed.

“The more he thought about it, the more everything began to feel like a sham.  It wasn’t just his own faux family, it was the “family structure” in general.  It was the social fabric itself, which was like a stage play everyone was engaged in. And maybe it was as that moment that he brook loose from is life. His “life”: it felt suddenly so abstract and tenuous.”

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