Dave Eggers appeals to that which is entirely normal–and terrifying.

and discusses the NASA budget and Americapathy

Dave Eggers appeals to that which is entirely normal--and terrifying.

Owen Egger, Special Events Editor

I have never kidnapped an astronaut. I have never been to a military base. These two elements are the crux of the dialogue-only action of Dave Eggers’s Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?—a book whose relatability extends to every individual frustrated by not knowing what to do.

The word that comes to mind is “pragmatic.” Dave Eggers’s Thomas is disturbed. He is alienable in many senses. But he is an individual whose struggle is indicative of that of the Millenial psyche. Thomas sees problems, injustices, racism, and death. Unfair, random, the sort of “how could something this bad happen to someone this good?” problems we seem to be faced with every day. And he can’t sleep, can’t be satisfied until he gets answers.

So he kidnaps an astronaut. An old acquaintance from college, Kevin Paciorek. He doesn’t even remember Thomas at first. Thomas is in control as he questions a handcuffed “Kev” in an abandoned military base. He is ready to have his questions answered, ready for his headaches to go away, ready to be at peace.

And yet Thomas is in deep turmoil, we come to realize as he paints for us a picture of himself as a middle-aged Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. Kev doesn’t have the answers and neither does Thomas. Time is running out. So Thomas takes the further steps to have his questions answered. The steps beyond kidnapping.

We all have to acknowledge at some point that we don’t have the answers. We have to acknowledge the injustices we see and feel and create as a society. Eggers’s brilliance is in presenting these issues through the mind of someone who for all intents and purposes is as normal as can be.

Thomas can be me, Thomas can be anyone.

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?

By Dave Eggers

240 pp. Vintage Books. $13.19