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10 thoughts on “The Parade

  1. says:

    Paving the Road to HellWhat is the authentic measure of a human being his commitments to an important goal; or his responses to unforeseen circumstances? Commitments are professional; responses are personal Commitments are often contractual; responses are usually not obligatory especially when they may reuire criminality as well as ingenuityThe uestion becomes even intriguing when the people involved do not know each other not even by name And when both commitments and ad hoc responses are contained as it were in some larger system of commitments and responses whose real purpose is unknown Is it even possible to speak of moral responsibility of any sort in such circumstances? The Parade is a variation on the stylistic devices of Kafka’s Castle Buzzati’s The Tartare Steppe and Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians No one has a name only a designation The location is threatening but not overtly violent The reader is permanently stuck in medias res waiting for the resolution of a mystery which hasn’t been stated Motivations are unclear except for the notions of duty and personal affection The distinguishing feature of The Parade is that its protagonists a two man road paving crew penetrate into an alien landscape rather than preparing for the approach of what the landscape might have in store for themSo Eggers latest has a possible ethical focus and a respectable pedigree But all sorts of incidental conceits go unresolved in his narrative the contents of bin bags strewn around the country the out of character and sudden dependence of the junior on the senior the flashes of kindness in the senior the motivations of the natives who assist the crew at great personal expense Most events seem merely dropped in as misdirections without meaning literary detritus These are not just loose ends Rather it seems Eggers playing with or rather against the reader A sort of sloppy Kafka; and certainly not Buzzati or Coetzee

  2. says:

    Four a man aspiring to be an automaton and assigned co worker Nine pave a road across a war devastated countryside Nine is of a plant out of place He shouldn't be there Or as Four thinks Four had never met this man and did not think himself capable of prophecy but in a instant he knew Nine was an agent of chaos and would make the difficult work ahead far so Lasting impressions will be the health aide worker who doesn't want to stop watching television when someone in need knocks on the clinic door Four's soundtrack and that perfect black road Straight and gleaming with immaculate stripes through all that human tragedy

  3. says:

    What are we to make of his slight new novel “The Parade” a tale of Western assistance in the developing world?The story opens in an unnamed country that has recently emerged from civil war To reunify this broken land an international company has been hired to build a highway connecting the rural south to the urban north In two weeks when the work is done the president will hold a parade to demonstrate his nation’s new era of peace and prosperity All that remains is to pave and paint this 150 mile road That job will be accomplished by a single gargantuan machine driven by one man assisted by another man who drives ahead to keep the path clear Completing the job from start to finish is the whole plot of “The Parade”For security reasons the two men entrusted with this work don’t give their names identifying themselves only by numbers The driver of the giant paving machine is “Four” an experienced construction worker who holds strictly to every company policy particularly the rule prohibiting interaction with the local populace Much to Four’s consternation his partner “Nine” is a cavalier novice who constantly wanders away to frolic with the people they pass Four deplores everything about his younger partner from his ridiculously long hair to his disregard for the dangers of their job But Nine has such a buoyant spirit and such an appreciation for this place and these native people that he makes Four seem To read the rest of this review go to The Washington Posthttpswwwwashingtonpostcomentert

  4. says:

    In an unamed countryrecovery from the civil war marred with corruption and burdened by a new lawless governmenttwo men named Four and Nine security company pseudonyms are on a 12 day assignment to repair a road before a planned parade by the President “ known for political theaterBoth of these men were anonymous and of little value other than do their job Four dishes out the important tasks He’s the boss Serious responsible most experienced sixty three different assignments in all Four could be counted on to complete any job on time or early He didn’t earn the nickname ‘clock’ for no reason He tells Nine“If you find a significant surface variation you aretasked with filling it in before the RS 80 arrives and if the variation is too large to fix you will have to radio me or come back to me in person Then we canassess whether we power down to fix the anomaly or if we just pave it over Okay?”“Okay” Nine is the complete opposite from Fourmessy late women in his bed whom he would gladly loan out to Fourand frankly Four considered Nine a liability Nine is a character but Four doesn’t consider anything about him funny not his hair that impedes his visionpushing it out of the way a hundred times a day nor his feminine mouth I won’t say about this new novelas it would be too easy to give spoilersOther thanThis spare novel is fiercean evocative storyDave Eggers prose touched me right in my gut

  5. says:

    Two probably American contractors have to pave a new road across the blighted war torn landscape of a Third World shithole probably in Africa so the new regime can have a parade on it A novel about road paving And it’s as exciting to read as it sounds I like Dave Eggers but his books set in Africathe Middle East are for whatever reason turrible I hoped Eggers would take the mundane setup and do something interesting with it no way could the book be so determinedly dull but nope it really is simply a portrayal of everyday engineering work in a desolate country Crikey I still tried to see what Eggers was trying to say if anything The two contractors are Four and Nine for security reasons they don’t know each other’s real names Four is stoic and professional who puts his head down and gets on with the job; Nine is reckless and irresponsible shirking his duties and nearly getting killed Was this a metaphor for life the road being paved is life and you can choose to walk along it not taking risks like Four but ultimately have an uneventful time of it or you can be like Nine and take risks and have adventures living it up while you can? Probably not that’d be too banal even for a self consciously literary novel But then I don’t know what the point of the novel was And that nihilistic ending is Eggers saying that the Third World can’t be helped until they help themselves? From what I know of the chap it seems unlikely Eggers would be that uncharitable Parts of the story were mildly interesting like when Nine got sick and Four had to figure out a way to save him The character of Medallion kept me guessing as to whether he’d turn on the two men at some point or not Eggers’ writing too is decent clearly composed if uninspired and I felt a strong sense of place from the descriptions Otherwise The Parade is one helluva boring and seemingly pointless story about how life in the Third World is as depressing as you think it is Instead I highly recommend Your Fathers Where Are They? to see how dynamite Dave Eggers can be

  6. says:

    Don't you see? It's like a parade before the real parade This is one of hope A procession of longingDave Eggers sets the wheels turning in this one He sets his storyline within the margins of an unnamed country ravaged by war for over ten years Peace is a construct served up by the government under uestionable circumstances A road is to be laid out connecting the north to the south for the first time in forever A parade of celebration will be take place after completionEggers never uite labels anything in this newest offering We assume that the said country may indeed be in Africa with two men from Western countries set to pave the road Their private names and that of their particular countries and company are sealed as well We will come to know the supervisor strictly as Four His assistant bears the name of Nine Four will be manning the RS 80 that lays down the surface of the road Nine's job will be to drive a smaller vehicle ahead that checks for any obstructions Supplies food tents and weapons have been packed inside the RS 80 and each compartment will be locked with a separate key Sounds pretty ship shape Not so fastFour is built with a mechanical mindset almost as rigid as the RS 80 itself He's a solely by the book kind of guy who adheres to company policy like a steel vice Four has a low threshold when it comes to tolerance We know nothing of his background story or his life before taking on this position From the onset we realize that he and Nine are going to be like a dull razor tearing at a raggedy beardNine is filled with life and curiosity We've got a sort of Grasshopper and the Ant scenario happening Nine takes off for hours at a time in search of adventures in the passing villages Four obsesses with vengeance against Nine as he continues his job of paving hour after hour His daily rituals remain the same even under these circumstances Nine seems to always show up eventuallyuntil he goes missing And here is where our story escalatesThis was my first book by Dave Eggers It's a stripped down model in regard to limited dialogue and atmosphere It manages to set up camp in as few as 179 pages But you will definitely be intrigued by these two main characters with danger lurking around every corner Keeping pace with these two guys is the easy part Keeping it together with what's on the very last page is a story unto itself

  7. says:

    “Excellent” the man said walking briskly and suinting into the distance “With a road like this now it is possible to make plans”Dave Eggers is a writer of the modern moral parable Yet often his moralizing can be somewhat simplistic or otherwise heavy–handed like a Sunday school marm looking disapprovingly upon the children for no particular reason As I read The Parade I began to think Eggers had finally found his stride and was becoming a bit nuanced in his parables – until I hit this book's bizarre endTwo men of radically different dispositions going by the code names Four and Nine for reasons of security have been tasked with paving a highway in an unnamed country that has just recently settled into an uneasy peace after an ugly civil war The highway set to connect the prosperous capital in the north with the modest south is seen by many as a harbinger for prosperity linking people and markets to better health care and opportunities The road must be completed on time so that the President can hold a parade celebrating the country’s newfound peace and reunificationFour is a man of schedules and time frames He puts his head down and gets to work He’s done sixty or so of these projects and all he wants to do is get the job done as uickly as possible and go home This is Nine’s first project on the other hand and he is there for the experience he takes every opportunity to engage with locals on the route drinking eating playing dominoes swimming in potentially typhoid laden water and partaking of the ladies all of which are forbidden by the company He also unbeknownst to Four gives away their supply of medicine and their satellite phone to the locals as he believes they need them So when Nine becomes gravely ill from eatingdrinkingswimming we're not sure which and the local NGO clinic nastily refuses to treat him because it is outside their mandate to treat local women Four and Nine must trust a group of local men to save his life And while the locals' leader needed the road finished so he might bring his dying wife for treatment in the capital none of the other potentially lethal motives Four suspects these helpmates of harboring turns out to be true The story is further complicated when the laborers are seized by another group of armed men who demand justice for a young woman Nine has defiledThrough a series of acts of kindness by strangers Four and Nine prevail and Four is forced to reckon with his employer's paranoia about “the other” And against the odds of a near death near imprisonment and the loss of basic tools needed to complete the work the two managed to complete the road on time for the presidential parade As they approach the last kilometers of pavement it is clear they have become the beacon of hope for the future for everyone along its path Thousands of people stream onto the highway behind them becoming a “parade before the real parade This is one of hope A procession of longing The second we’re done their world catapults into the twenty first century Trade medical care access to government services information education relatives electricity and the northern port”But just as the road is completed and you think the story was about learning to find a balance between steadfastness and openness mercy and late capitalist inhumanity and you’re pondering the poison at the heart of modern man’s inability to relate to those in radically different circumstances and from different backgrounds Eggers crushes all those thoughts with a brutal ending that confronts something else entirely and makes you uestion everything you thought you’d learned and makes you wonder WHY Dave WHY?? Hope is murdered and for what?The ending is obviously intended to shock but what further response that shock is supposed to produce in the reader is unclear Should no one work on projects outside their home country? Is hope for naught in the face of brutal men? I'm not sure The point of writing a story with a moral is to produce a shift in thinking in the reader helping them come to a conclusion about what is right and wrong for humans in a set of circumstances which this ending does not produce at all A puzzling readI also write longer form reviews that you can find here

  8. says:

    This novella offers an allegorical take on Western assistance in developing nations Two contract workers only referred to as Four and Nine are sent to an unnamed country marred by civil war in order to complete a strategically important road hoping their project would help connect people and enable locals and NGOs to transport important goods like food and medicine Once they finish their 12 day assignment there are are plans to celebrate their accomplishment with the titular parade so yes do not ask whether it makes sense that two lonesome dudes pave an important road in the middle of nowhere within such a short period of time Eggers is not here to write in the realm of realism This is a fable Will the connection be made? And where will the road lead? Does it built by the West even stand for progress? Four and Nine represent different attitudes Westerners might show towards such potentially dangerous places they do not fully understand Four is cautious always adheres to the rules and regulations trying to ignore the surroundings and fully concentrating on his task without really connecting his deeds with the world around him; Nine on the other hand acts like he is on an adventure marvelling at the locals and their customs while being fully aware that he will be able to leave behind the poverty they are subjected to Of course both attitudes are uestionable in their own way is this particularly subtle storytelling? Hell no But it's not like Eggers doesn't have a point and aren't there many backpacking tourists stumbling through Asia and Africa with an outlook similar to that of Nine? Eggers' story hints at the Gordian knot that foreign aid can be the mistakes of the West but also the price those pay who enter with the best intentions and find themselves facing a reality of violence and corruption so overwhelming they themselves start to feel helpless The ending of this book is unbelievably grim but very fitting for what Eggers is trying to do hereSo this is not a very layered or filigrane book but this small text tells a compelling story and packs a punch From the outside being a foreign aid worker be it as a doctor an engineer or a craftsman often seems like a heroic and fulfilling job but whoever really looked at what this can mean for the individual or in how many ways such missions can fail will realize that this is one of the toughest most merciless professions around Eggers writes about just thatNow also available in German Die Parade if you want to learn about the book you can listen to the latest episode of our podcast in German

  9. says:

    A modern fable of a road turns into a thoughtful read on colonialism and exploitationEggers is a bit of a hit or miss author for me; I loved the Circle but hated a Hologram for the King This book falls a bit in between but offers plenty of content to ponder about despite it’s short size 35 stars rounded downCharacters and PlotFour and Nine codenames for the two employees sent to an unnamed in my head African but I don’t think its really made specific anywhere third world country must build a road between North and South Nine has knowledge of the language and is a go lucky guy blending in with the locals while for Four this is his sixty third mission When the experienced Four meets him for the first time he finds Nine sleeping with a girl and during the whole story the recklesness of Nine is pitted against the meticulous orderly nature of Four Four is the chauffeur of the automated asphalt dispensing RS 80 and wants to complete his job as soon as possible and certainly before a military parade is due Nine’s job is to clear the road of obstacles but his misbehaviour turns out to be the greatest obstacle to make the deadline Four must engage with a local to get the job done and discovers along the way that the protocols of his company are of little worth in a crisis or in real life in general for that matterThroughout the book I found Nine portrayed as a careless idealistic milennial type of guy who compares the road they are laying to the trunk of a tree that would heal the country through micro enterprises alongside uite annoying Maybe that shows that I am as a person a bit closer to the rule abiding Four despite the fact I found him rather boring and disliked how he kept conviently narrating to himself why he could not seek outside help of his company ThemesWhat Eggers does really well however is the portrayal of people in a third world country as just that people The locals Four and Nine meet are neither saints nor money hungry kidnappers In general they want to help and they want to be compensated for that help They genuinly want to heal their country that is littered with mines in forests and plastic bags filled with what I interpret to be human remains after the long civil war They want prosperity and better healthcare for their loved ones and the road is a way to that However Eggers alludes on the final page that it can just as well be that the road is a road to hell dependent on the intentions of those in power What struck me most of all is how priviliged Four and Nine as westerners are how for them one and a half week in the country is kind of an adventure A kind of real life escape room with money weapons and medicine available at will a company who could provide an airlift and a business class flight out afterwards Eggers shows the same detachment at work at a NGO healthcare clinic they meet along the way Here someone watches a game of soccer and will be repatriated in a few months while people literally plead at the door of the compound for the medicine that could save lives

  10. says:

    There are some books that are slow to begin with but which deliver later and others that promise much but fall away in the denouement I would say that “The Parade” falls into the latter category The story centres around two Westerners employed to construct a road in a developing country I thought of the two main characters as Americans and the setting as being in Africa but that might be partly down to the accents adopted by the narrator in the audio version The author deliberately tries to create a particular atmosphere in the setting The two lead characters are known only as “four” and “nine” and they are employed by “the Company” Two local men they encounter are referred to as “medallion” and “cousin” and they converse in “the local language” The road is being built to “the Capital City” and the country is unnamed It’s not uite Kafkaesue but it borders on that The two main characters are polar opposites to an almost absurd degree “Four” is like an automaton uncommunicative and humourless He follows the rules set by the Company to the absolute letter and wants minimal interaction with the local inhabitants “Nine” wants to experience everything about the country they are in the food the alcohol the culture and the womenI was intrigued by the setting and by how the developing story of “four” and “nine” would work out I was dissatisfied with the last couple of chapters though Obviously I can’t say much without giving away spoilers but I thought the ending banal Three stars for the way the book held my attention throughout but ultimately a bit of a disappointment

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The Parade [PDF / EPUB] The Parade From the bestselling author of The Monk of Mokha and The Circle comes a taut suspenseful story of two foreigners' role in a nation's fragile peaceAn unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade From the bestselling author of The Monk of Mokha and The Circle comes a taut suspenseful story of two foreigners' role in a nation's fragile peaceAn unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war and to commemorate the armistice the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state Two men foreign contractors from the same company are sent to finish the highway While one is flighty and adventurous wanting to experience the nightlife and people the other wants only to do the work and go home But both men must eventually face the absurdities of their positions and the dire conseuences of their presence With echoes of J M Coetzee and Graham Greene this timeless novel uestions whether we can ever understand another nation's war and what role we have in forging anyone's peace.