Saturday, September 2, 2017

UUAWOL fiction book of the month, September, 2017 - Heroes Of The Frontier by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers latest novel, Heroes Of The Frontier, is the UUAWOL fiction book of the month for September, 2017.

The main hero of Eggers' novel is Josie, a dentist, who loses her practice through a malpractice claim against her when she failed to diagnose an oral cancer in an older woman she was treating.  Josie, divorced, takes her two kids, a son aged 8 and a daughter aged 5 and decides to go to Alaska to visit a foster sister. The story is about this adventure.

The morals of the story are many and in the mind of the reader. Share your thoughts through out the month.


  1. Josie is a lost soul and knows it. I can't imagine her getting through dental school and practicing and then just giving up her profession. It is not clear why she makes such a drastic life style changing decision. I am not sure she is all that believable a character. Dentists have the third highest suicide rate of all professions. So in general, they are not happy well adjusted people. Josie does love her kids though and she is a good mom.

  2. The first paragraph of this novel is a gem. "There is proud happiness, happiness born of doing good work in the light of day, years of worthwhile labor, and afterward being tired, and content, and surrounded by family and friends, bathed in satisfaction and ready for a deserved rest - sleep or death, it would not matter." p.3

    What Eggers seems to be talking about is a sense of completion, something we all seek knowingly or unknowingly. We are born here for a reason and our mission is to discern what that reason is and to fulfill it. This story which is mostly Josie's story starts off with this promise to the reader that we will learn the reason for Josie's life or we get to witness her coming to understand it.

  3. I got a kick out of the description of Josie's child/man ex husband, Carl.

    Eggers writes:"The image of Carl that came to mind, now eighteen months after their split, was of him standing, a wide stance, at the toilet, the door open, waiting to piss. Or actually pissing. Or shaking after pissing. Unzipping before or after pissing. Changing his plaid housepants because he didn’t shake well enough after pissing and had dribbled on them and they now smelled like piss. Pissing twice in the early morning. Pissing six or seven times after dinner. Pissing all day. Getting out of bed three times every night to piss. It’s your prostate, Josie told him. You’re a dentist, he told her. P. 16

    Probably every man over 40 or 50 can identify with this description. Does Josie find Carl's uninary habits endearing, repulsive, or natural? Dentists are a little OCD or they wouldn't be attracted to the intricate and detailed work that ministry entails. So it makes you wonder why Josie would have been attracted to such a man?

  4. I am enjoying Heroes on the Frontier. Thank you for suggesting it and hosting these articles and comments. On page 7 Eggers writes: "But suburban drama was so tiresome, so absurd on its face, that she could no longer be around anyone who thought it real or worthwhile."

    Josie is 40. Her marriage has failed. She has lost her dentistry practice in a law suit, and all she has left are her two kids. The universe has slapped her along side of the head and made her wonder if what she thought she had in her life was all there is. In this context she decides to go on a quest of sorts. This book is a quest story. What will she find out about herself, about life, about others, etc. Gotta love it.

  5. It seems to be synchronicitous that the reading of Heroes of the Frontier and the post on cosmic consciousnesses and Jesus statement about leaving one's family should occur when Eggers writes about Josie leaving her old life to go to Alaska "The same emotions recycled, reconfigured, fuck it, she was free. Free of human entanglements!" It seems that sometimes people have had enough. I read somewhere on the internet that "when enough is enough. That's enough!" The same stuff just repeats, gets recycled, gets replayed in an endless loop. As they say in AA, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." The moral of that slogan is, if you don't know what else to do, at least do something different and without much of a plan, Josie does just that."


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