Await Your Reply / Dan Chaon

In Chaon’s first novel, You Remind Me Of Me, he followed three different characters as they strived to establish meaningful lives.  As its plot unfolds, the reader begins to sense these lives are linked in some manner.  Chaon carefully doled out pieces of the puzzle to keep one’s interest throughout.  In his follow-up, Await Your Reply, he appears to be covering the same ground.  At the start, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was not trying to pull the same trick twice.  Again, he intertwines a trio of story lines, with similar flawed characters trying to come to grip with what to do with their lives.  It too is a meditation on identity in a world where nothing is quite as it seems.  But gradually, the differences between the two begin to show.  In the modern day world of Await Your Reply, identity theft is an ever-looming threat.   Each character is involved in some way in a con game.  Chaon is a meat and potatoes kind of writer; there is nothing poetic about his prose.  His great strength is the ability to create a haunting story with characters that are beautifully drawn.  Even though there were numerous clues sprinkled throughout, the conclusion of this novel took me by surprise.  Chaon achieves this while remaining true to his characters and faithful to the reader’s trust.

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