Chris Eaton, 354 pgs, BookThug,bookthug.com, $25
We’ve all done it — Googled ourselves to find out what the Internet has to offer in our name. If you’re like me, you discover you’re the end of the line, that the only person who shares even your last name is your partner, and your universe ends there. Chris Eaton has a lot more to work with.
This pseudo-biographical novel is divided into nine parts, beginning with the roots of the Chris Eatons presented here, and continuing through childhood, adolescence, university years, and so on, right to their various ends. The Chris Eatons (and various anagrammatic permutations) who populate this novel are women, men, straight, gay, and other, and they kaleidoscope through various occupations and creative passions. The narrative is fractured, each story told in brief vignettes, often with long digressions into the minutiae and obsessions that direct the thrust of their lives.
Born in New Brunswick, the Chris Eaton who is the author of the present book, is a novelist and musician. He now lives in Toronto, where he plays with the indie rock band Rock Plaza Central. If you Google him, you’ll find Chris Eatons who share similar biographic details; for instance, there’s the Chris Eaton who writes books on missionary work, and the Chris Eaton who plays Christian rock. Since this novel’s author lacks a website of his own to distinguish himself from the other Chris Eatons, it can get very confusing.
But then, perhaps that’s the point. These real and fictional Chris Eatons meld all distinctions and a composite Chris Eaton emerges. To underscore this, the novel offers various metaphors on the theme that these stories and people do intersect — in drops of water, in mathematics, in painting.
In the end, Chris Eaton is both obsessed with identity, and challenges the notion of identity itself. Innovative meta-story or extreme narcissism? Either way it’s a hell of a read, and a lot of fun. (Nico Mara-McKay)