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

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

Dave Eggers. Knopf/McSweeney's, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-101-87419-6

Composed entirely of dialogue, the latest from Eggers (The Circle) is more tedious deposition than gripping drama. The novel is set on an abandoned military base along the Pacific coast, where Thomas, a troubled man, is interrogating a diverse group of chained captives. Frustrated by his lack of purpose and in search of answers about injustices large and small, Thomas kidnaps Kev, a driven astronaut who represents "the one fulfilled promise" he's ever known. This first interview inspires Thomas to seek out further captives: an ex-congressman, a policeman, a disgraced schoolteacher, his own mother and others. Depending on the prisoner, Thomas is respectful or abusive, solicitous or prosecutorial, but he never wavers in his view of himself as a "moral" and "principled man." He is outraged at the abuses, shortsightedness, and skewed priorities of the government and its institutions, yet yearns for that government to provide him with some defining role or plan: "Don't we deserve grand human projects that give us meaning?" As for the captives, they generally respond to their unhinged interrogator with sententious or stilted speechifying: "Thomas, you want to attribute your behavior to a set of external factors." There are flashes of sardonic humor and revelations about the triggering event behind the kidnappings, but by then readers will feel as if they themselves have been detained far too long. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Jun.)