Monday, November 28, 2022

Interstate by Stephen Dixon


A father leaves New York City for home with his two young daughters.  His wife is staying behind for a few days with her parents to visit.  He drives along the interstate, listening to the radio, talking with his daughters and thinking about his life.  Suddenly, a car approaches.  Two men are in the car and they start to make motions towards him.  He drops back, and they do also.  He speeds up and again they match him.  Finally, they tire of teasing him and drive away.

But they aren't through.  After a time, they show up again.  This time, the passenger who has been the most aggressive, pulls out a gun and fires at the man's car.  He is able to get to the shoulder and stop but his youngest daughter has been hit and dies.

This is the premise of Stephen Dixon's Interstate.  He retells this story eight different times, each time changing it a bit or focusing on different aspects such as the time at the hospital trying to save his daughter, calling his wife to tell her of the tragedy, or remembering his life with his daughters and various outings they have had.  

This is not an easy book to read.  Not only is the premise upsetting, but the entire book is written in a stream of consciousness mode, taking the reader inside the man's head on the worst day of his life.  We relive the horrible moments time and time as he is now condemned to do for the rest of his life.  The text is challenging with no breaks but the novel will be one that those who finish it remember for years.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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