Books: Dave Eggers

🕔Mar 09, 2018

This book depressed the hell out of me.

Following a mother and her two small children on a chaotic journey around Alaska, the reader is embedded inside mom’s head as she tries to justify her actions and escape from her past. Their trip in an ancient RV takes them across an Alaskan landscape plagued by wildfires and odd characters. Her moods vary continually, often related to how much wine she’s drunk. “A tipsy parent,” Josie tells herself, “is all love and no restraint.”

And yes, Eggers—best known for his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius—laces the pages with sardonic humour. Scenes of Josie’s kids—Ana, a precocious whirlwind prone to break anything and everything wherever they go, and Paul, slightly older and serious, like a miniature stand-in for the absent father—make you both cringe and smile.

But what makes this book stand out is its brutal honesty. Honesty about human fallibility and honesty about the North, how it can be both beautiful and ugly at the same time. Which, if you think about it, is maybe a bit like life.

— Matt J. Simmons