Alma Books, e-book, 223 p.
Jonathon Bender had something to say to the world, but the world wouldn’t listen. However, he left behind unsent letters addressed to relatives, friends, teachers, classmates, professors, roommates, employers, former girlfriends, his ex-wife, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the state of Michigan, and a weather satellite, among many others. These form the narrative of a remarkable life.When I was originally contacted to see if I would like to review this book, they hadn’t considered, or realised, that it would involve international postage. So instead I was emailed a PDF file of the book with their apologies and no obligation. Although I definitely prefer holding an actual bound book, the concept behind the story still intrigued me so I decided to print it out and give it a go, and I’m really glad I did! I guess I mention this because even though the reading conditions were perhaps not ideal, it was a completely enjoyable read, and as I became engrossed in the story, I didn’t really care anymore that I was reading loose pages. It’s actually made me start lusting after an e-book reader but that’s another matter entirely. As it’s a book I might not have come across otherwise, I’m very glad I gave it a chance.
Dear Everybody maintains a tone of finely judged tension between laughter and tears in an involving and sympathetically written work of fiction.
The story is written in epistolary style, and the full title of the book, Dear Everybody: A Novel Written in the Form of Letters, Diary Entries, Encyclopedia Entries, Conversations with Various People, Notes Sent Home from Teachers, Newspaper Articles, Psychological Evaluations, Weather Reports, a Missing Person Flyer, a Eulogy, a Last Will and Testament, and Other Fragments, Which Taken Together Tell the Story of the Short Life of Jonathon Bender, Weatherman, gives you a good idea of the creativity that makes up this story.
Dear Mom and Dad,The main character, Jonathan, has had a difficult life and the various letters and diary entries and others slowly reveal more about his family and the events that shaped him into the man he became. Each small moment remembered fits together so that we begin to understand him a little better and to truly care for this character. Many of his observations were quite humourous and had me chuckling at his naïveté, but some of his seemingly innocent thoughts were actually quietly profound. Plus, running underneath it all was a strong current of sadness and despair.
Do you ever wish that the sperm and the egg that became me wasn’t me? I’m sure that you must have been expecting somebody else from all of that pleasure.
Dear Heather Fairing,Overall it was a touching story of human relationships and how they can go wrong, and a story which made me stop to ponder the long-lasting effects our actions can have on others. A very worthwhile read.
I’m sorry that I wouldn’t open the windows in our apartment even though we didn’t have an air conditioner and it was so hot that summer that we lived together. I was afraid that somebody was going to climb up the fire escape and break in on us while we were sleeping and I didn’t know what they might take. There was already too much that was missing from us.
'Dear Everybody' Blog
Guest Post: On Writing 'Dear Everybody'
Interview with Michael Kimball
First sentence: Now do you remember?
Thank you to Daniel of Alma Books for the opportunity to read this story.
My Rating: 4/5
(#21 for 2009)