My goal this year was to read authors and genres I do not usually read. I started out strong but fell back to my comfort zone quickly. Therefore, on a whim, I picked up a damaged copy of Dave Eggers’ The Parade. At first, I did not see any damage. At least, not outwards. Opening it up, I learned the book was printed upside down. Still readable but should have been my first clue to the nature of the book.
I can understand why some people would not like his style. It seems “done before” and maybe a tad self-indulgent in places. He can use three words where two were good enough. My first thought was either he has copied some of the great authors, they have copied him, or I was picking up some funky vibes. I think the answer is all the above.
There are elements of classic fantasy and science fiction and yet, total realism fills each page. I would liken it to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Also, (and I think this is because I am also reading a Neal Stephenson book, therefore an easy comparison) to Stephenson. Not because of the subject matter, but because of the writing style. There is the gritty realism of war, peace and the fragility of values, morality and forced peace. There is a story that literally seems to go about as quickly as the work on the road the main characters are building (only a few inches at a time). Nothing really happens, yet everything happens. There are no flashy “shoot outs” or “car chases” action, but there is the action of trying to keep yourself safe in the middle of a country torn about by decades of fighting. There are the consequences of your actions. The war-torn landscape will remind you of historical battles (WWII Europe) or modern battles (Syria). This is every country and no one country.
While a book this size should take one only a few hours of uninterrupted reading, I do not recommend rushing through it. There is too much going on and the ending itself will take time to digest.