Review: F: A Novel

F: A Novel
F: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this novel, Arthur takes his three sons to see a hypnotist’s show. There, secrets are revealed and, it seems, all 4 of their lives (plus those of their mothers) are set on new trajectories. F follows the sons in mid-adulthood, when each is questioning his path and seems to have made a horrible bungle of things. F stands for Faith, Fraud, and Forgery, and it also stands for Family. With this theme of fatherly abandonment, I had a little dread about reading it — Would it be relentlessly, European-ly gloomy, fatalistic? It was surprisingly full of life and humor. Each of the four strands are intertwined (as you might expect in a story about brothers, two of them identical twins) and it happens in unexpected and clever ways. The boys each play crucial roles in the unfolding of one another’s stories and, though none of their stories is happy, I found myself feeling glad for them that they stayed connected throughout their lives despite their parents’ failings. A good read.

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