Chloë Schama

  • culture September 11, 2009

    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

    Dan Chaon’s latest novel, Await Your Reply, starts in the middle of a particularly bloody scene: A severed hand on a bed of ice in a Styrofoam cooler is being rushed, along with its owner, to a hospital in Michigan. Chaon offers no further information; the details—teeth chattering, calluses on the fingertips of the hand, “the car pursuing its pool of headlight”—give the action a visceral edge rather than clarify the cause. The events leading up to this situation go unexplained for much of the book. Such is the pattern of this novel: Motivating reasons remain obscure, effects are painfully