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Heroes of the Frontier Hardcover – July 26, 2016
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“Among his bestselling literary fiction peers, Dave Eggers alone is engaged in a sustained effort to write about contemporary America. He’s been going at it so regularly, and so swiftly, that he’s keeping pace with the times, if not getting a half-step ahead… When Eggers draws the present into his fiction, it’s there not just as window dressing or setting; it tells us something about ourselves… Heroes gives us a woman who’s at the end of her rope, in a place of salvation without the wherewithal to seek it, as its promise goes up in flames.”
—Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times
“This is a novel about America, about what forces people to leave ‘the lower 48’ to seek refuge in a forbidding, unpeopled landscape… Eggers renders it with such passion and good humour, and describes the ‘land of mountains and light’ in such stirring, lustrous prose… There is a feeling of utopianism about the novel, a sense that, in Alaska, some original American dream slumbers just beneath the ice… Heroes of the Frontier acts on the reader like a breath of Alaskan air, cleansing the spirit and lifting the heart.”
—Alex Preston, The Guardian (U.K)
“The phenomenally productive Eggers has talent to spare… In his books he has revealed a remarkable aptitude for inhabiting otherness and illuminating the world’s darker corners… Heroes of the Frontier again offers complex, believable characters… Entertains, often spectacularly.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, The New York Times Book Review
“Captivating…. Part adventure, part social critique, the book is occasionally harrowing and often very funny… As Eggers takes Josie through wildfires, avalanches, lightning strikes and narrow escapes from the long arm of the law, he suggests there's something a little heroic in all of us.” —Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News
“Eggers, writing with exuberant imagination, incandescent precision, and breathless propulsion, casts divining light on human folly and generosity and the glories and terror of nature. This uproarious quest, this breathless journey from lost to found, this delirious American road-trip saga, is fueled by uncanny insight, revolutionary humor, and profound pleasure in the absurd and the sublime.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
DAVE EGGERS is the author of ten books, including the national best sellers The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco. Eggers is the cofounder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country, and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools, and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family.
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Top customer reviews
Dave Eggers presents a grand, heroic look at the threatening frontier of Alaska that is ironically both frozen and constantly fraught with forest fires. Simultaneously, he presents within Josie, a single-mother perpetually on edge of either a nervous breakdown or looking to succumb to rampant alcoholism, the heroic, and all-too human, qualities of running away while running towards. All throughout Heroes Of The Frontier, Josie, along with her two young children, Paul and Ana, completely, and even triumphantly, does both.
Eggers manifests within the novel a philosophy of life, marriage, the tediousness of parenting, and, most importantly, the need to grab hold of that golden ring. Through Josie, we get quirky, and often times hysterical, looks at the insanity of a grade school event schedule, the requisite stupidity of musicals, the glaring monotony of dentistry - perhaps the daily professional grind we all must endure - and the absolute joy of singing, dancing, and communing with live music. Josie embarks on her hero’s quest, destination unknown, hoping to find herself while going off the grid, discovering unabashed kindness and typical American anger. She loves her children, but maybe isn’t the best of parents. She wishes to remove herself from society, but seeks out companionship. She drinks, too much and too easily, but she also laughs, and smiles, and, eventually, does her best to forgive.
Like all great stories, the finale comes sooner than expected. However, the ultimate ending escapes complete fulfillment as earlier steps in the journey might have been more resolute in the closing of the circle. Then again, maybe I did not want this tale to finish. I wanted the fierce mystery of Alaska to unwrap and unveil as Josie continues her eternal quest for resolution and her well-deserved happy ending, as do we all; all of us heroes in this unending frontier.
I just love his books. I've read all of them, I think, and I didn't find any that didn't equal his High standards.
I’m aware that these views are dramatically different from those of many other reviewers. So be it.
No heroes on this frontier
Perhaps Eggers was sarcastic in writing the title to his latest novel. In any case, there are no heroes in this novel. The protagonist is a forty-year-old woman from Ohio named Josie. She has two young children and is clearly unable to act rationally with any consistency. She has fled with the kids to Alaska after losing her dental practice in a malpractice suit. She is also fleeing from her worthless ex-husband and a recurring nightmare about the death of a young man in Afghanistan. She had encouraged him to enlist in the Marines. His parents were livid, and Josie feels responsible for his death.
Arriving in Alaska, Josie rents a barely functional old RV in Anchorage. She and her children head north into a wooded countryside that is often in flames. The kids, a ten-year-old boy and an eight-year-old daughter, could hardly be more different from each other. Ana is a hellion, bound on harming herself and breaking everything around her. Paul is a juvenile saint who dotes on his sister and in unfailingly kind. Much of the time, Paul is the only adult among the three. As they head further and further north into vast reaches of Alaska, they encounter one forest fire after another.
Though the two children figure as principal characters, Eggers tells his story from Josie’s muddled point of view. To give him due credit, Josie is a complex person, and so are the kids. But Josie’s confused thoughts and feelings dominate the novel. She makes one stupid mistake after another. It’s really quite frustrating to observe the consequences.
About the author
Dave Eggers has won an extraordinarily long list of literary awards. Writing since 1993, he has written five works of nonfiction and nine novels, among many other books. Several of his books have been runaway bestsellers. Eggers is also a major figure in the Bay Area literary scene. He co-founded 826 Valencia, a San Francisco nonprofit that tutors children ages 6-18; the organization has since gone national, with chapters in six major cities across the country. Eggers is equally well known in the region as the founder of an independent publisher named McSweeney’s. He is prolific in the extreme and displays talent in writing screenplays, humor for children, and song lyrics as well as the visual arts. This is all in addition to his prodigious output of books. He is just 46 years old.