Saturday, August 1, 2009

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

A brother looking for his missing twin, a teacher and student who decide to take their romance on the road, and a young man coming to terms with secrets about his past – these are the main characters of Dan Chaon’s fascinating new novel. Their stories all take place separately from each other, but they are joined by loneliness, isolation, and a search (a desperate search at times) for their identities. Chaon manages to turn that almost clich├ęd pursuit (aren't most novels about identity in some way or another?) into something unique and very contemporary. You’ll probably want to check your credit report before you even finish the book.
The world of Await Your Reply, like the one of Chaon’s wonderful first novel, You Remind Me of Me, might have seemed overly dark, if it hadn't seemed so real. Yes, someone has lost a hand on page one. There are Russian mobsters and a dusty, depressing old magic shop, too. But there are also moments when the clarity of Chaon’s writing gave me the chills.
As the threads of the different characters began to come together, I was completely unable to put it down. I can’t say more, just read it, and then tell me what you think.