What is the What by Dave Eggers

McSweeney’s (2006). 475 pp.

I tried finding a way to write a cohesive review of this book, but everything I wrote down sounded too trite or newsie. So, I crossed off everything and wrote at the top of a new page: what do I think about the book? The following anecdotes are the result of this.

I lost track at times at the fact that Dave Eggers was the writer. This is a good thing, especially with a nonfiction novel–he immerses himself deep enough into the character that I can believe, from his writing, that there were times he thought himself to be Sudanese, walking through the bush, and responding to the name Valentino Achak Deng.

As a reader, I was drawn in by the strikingly similar yet contrasting images between the flashbacks of the life in the bush and the present-day events in Atlanta. As a human, I was finally allowed to understand the heartbreak and suffering that Valentino and the other children experienced. The whole Darfur situation is made all the more believable after hearing a first-had account. The perspective changed from “those people in Africa all the way across the ocean,” to “this is what I went through as a child.”

The cyclical plot structure allows the sequence of events to seem like a story, not like a fascinating excerpt from a history book.

I was a bit surprised that there was no real mention of a religion. It would seem natural that anyone put through that kind of a life would call out to a higher power, or even to make one up if they could think of none to call out to. It would seem natural for someone in their situation to believe in a heaven of some sort, so they could hope for and be comforted by the fact that there exists something other than what they’ve been given.


Advertisements

About katepadilla

I write for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. I keep blogs lifebythebooks, Save Me, San Francisco, and Beauty and Beast Buy a House. I'm also hard at work writing a short story collection inspired by the music of Train.

What did you think?

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

w

Connecting to %s

Imagine Our Life

Creative living with a toddler!

Bob on Books

Thoughts on books, reading, and life

Tropics of Meta

historiography for the masses

dutch sisters create

As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Kate Brauning

YA author, Editor, Activist, Enthusiast, Fangirl

Breslanta

Covering Atlanta far better than MARTA

jenlancaster

thoughts on the stories we love and love to hate

Ben and Becky in Indonesia

Adventures abound!

%d bloggers like this: