I finished the Dan Chaon novel, Await Your Reply, yesterday. It was fucking amazing. I mean, it really blew my mind. In fact, my mind is still blown to some degree. And no, I am not high, although I kind of wished I was. Man, I could use a spliff right about now.
Anyhoo… At first, I hadn’t understood the reviews that made comparisons to Pynchon, or at least said that it was more Pynchonesque than Thomas Pynchon’s most recent novel, Inherent Vice, but as the story progressed and came together approaching the end the comparison and/or allusion made more and more sense. The culmination was and is haunting. I’ve no doubt that this book and it’s characters will stick with me for a long time to come. And I’m convinced that at some point I’ll be returning to it to read it again, something I rarely. The last book that effected me this strongly was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and that went on to win The Pulitzer, which I called even before it was being considered. I’m not saying Await Your Reply is a shoe in for the big P but I would not be surprised if it won something. It deserves at the ver least to be nominated.
After reading the last page, I went to the aknowledgements, which I liked to read. And I discovered that Dan Chaon’s wife of 20 years died after a long battle with ovarian cancer a few weeks after he finished the novel. As he did his final edits he had her scrawled notes on the manuscript to look at. That just hit me point blank in the heart. Umph!
What made it even more powerful was that early that day I’d learned that a cousin had died suddenly when she was struck by a falling tree on her farm. She was walking with her dogs and feeding ducks near a pond. There had been a storm the night before that apparently loosedn a tree and wel… Then I hear from my cousin that he is hurrying home because his father, my uncle, is most likely on his death bed.
It was just strange. And I’m still feeling the risidual effect of this confluence of events. Not that it means anything, or even has to. It just is what it is.