Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: & Sons by David Gilbert

After spending a week with this novel and getting to know A.N. Dyer and his sons, I am finally done with & Sons (And Sons). & Sons is the debut literary fiction novel by David Gilbert and it is quite a treat. & Sons opens at the funeral of Charles Henry Topping, Dyer's oldest and dearest friend.  After speaking at the funeral, Dyer pretty much loses it and begins trying to get all his sons together under the same roof so he can make some sort of amends for being a crappy father.

Phillip Toppin narrates the story and even defends his narration by suggesting that Dyer uses his father in his own fiction, so he can do the same. Dyer is a famous author who's debut novel Ampersand, likened to A Catcher in the Rye, has given him fame and fortune. But with death knocking at the door, that doesn't much matter to him. Dyer's fame and fortune doesn't matter to his son Richard who wants nothing to do with the family wealth (except when it's given from Mother). He lives as far away from the Upper Eastside as possible: Los Angeles with his wife, daughter, and son who is close in age to his uncle, Andy. Andy is the youngest (17 years old) of the three Dyer siblings. Andy also seems the most connected with their father and wants to follow in his footsteps. Jamie, besides one good scene where he's in an altercation, is absolutely forgettable. Sorry... but he is.

As a debut effort, this novel is extremely well written, yet approachable for those who are intimidated by the literary label. I usually find some literary fiction to be one blabbering mess that goes nowhere. The absence of a plot seems to give any hack author the right to call their work literary. Thankfully, David Gilbert's & Sons deserves that recognition. He even references, pay homage, to the greats of the past.

What helps make this novel worthy of recommendation is it's character development and themes. Although many of the characters are deeply flawed, I felt that they deserved some sort of redemption. & Sons speaks often about death, friendship, family, and relationships between fathers and sons. I like when the mention of our friends faces never really change regardless of their age. & Sons is poetically written... most certainly.

Overall, I would recommend David Gilbert's & Sons to lovers of intelligent fiction. There is definitely some quirky moments, sad moments, and awe inducing moments. I really enjoyed & Sons. Hopefully Gilbert won't miss with his sophomore effort because I will be waiting for it.  ****

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