5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"I'm that one Scrabble tile that has no letter on it.",
This review is from: Eleanor Rigby (Hardcover)
Like Eleanor Rigby, Liz Dunn, an overweight, thirty-six-year-old woman, is lonely, living in an apartment which is not a home. While she is recuperating from oral surgery, Liz receives a surprising phone call from the police, summoning her to the hospital. A twenty-year-old man named Jeremy Buck has been picked up wearing mesh stockings and black lingerie and suffering from a drug overdose, and Liz's name is on his Medic Alert bracelet. When she meets him for the first time, he greets her as "Mom."
The novel shifts back and forth between 1997, when Liz first meets Jeremy Buck, and her earlier childhood and teen years, and then fast-forwards to 2004. It gives nothing away to say that Jeremy was obviously conceived on Liz's high school trip when she was sixteen, but she has no recollection of Jeremy's father and no awareness, for many months, that she could even be pregnant. After giving birth during a bout of "indigestion," Liz gives the baby up for adoption, until he finds her twenty years later.
Through this framework, "Generation X" author Douglas Coupland examines the nature of family life and the search for meaning. We know from the outset that Jeremy has multiple sclerosis, but he does not look to religion to provide solace or answers. Instead, he has visions, usually about farm families awaiting the end of the world, visions which bear striking resemblances to some of the issues Liz faces. As Jeremy's MS progresses, his desire to find meaning grows. "Death without the possibility of changing the world was the same as a life that never was," he believes, and he intends to live it as well as he can--with Liz.
Witty and often mordantly funny, the novel develops an edge of satire at the same time that it strives to be emotionally stirring. When Liz goes to Europe to help with a police investigation, seven years later, a comedy of errors ensues, taking the novel further into the realm of absurdity and farce. Although the novel often discusses issues of death and other Gen X concerns, the author uses a consistently light touch, keeping the tone upbeat and avoiding the details of Jeremy's final decline. The novel is not complex, nor is it subtle, with the parallels between Jeremy's visions and Liz's life fully explained by the author. Sparkling dialogue and a conclusion which carries the themes to their absurd conclusions, keep the reader going, and the novel ultimately answers the big questions in the song for which it is named--"Where to we all come from?...Where do we all belong?" Mary Whipple