Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Book 39: Chuck Dugan Is AWOL, by Eric Chase Anderson

Anyone who has seen The Royal Tenenbaums is already familiar with Eric Chase Anderson's work, although they might not know it. Anderson is the brother of Tenenbaums director Wes Anderson, and did the various drawings and portraits that adorn the walls of the Tenenbaum home. He also drew the box art for the Criterion Edition DVD. Now, Eric Chase Anderson has set out to create his own story - Chuck Dugan Is AWOL: A Novel With Maps - and it's a terrific read for any age.

The story is fairly simple, but never goes for the expected or pat result, which is refreshing. In fact, the book ends on a surprisingly ambiguous note, which is unique considering that it's probably at least partially targeted toward young readers. The story centers on an 18-year-old boy who has left his Marine training to try to help his mother, who seems to be marrying an evil, evil man called The Admiral. Additionally, he's just received a letter in which his father, now deceased, has directed him to some underwater treasure. Interspersed throughout the story are maps. Maps of locations, maps of boats, maps of houses, and even maps of human beings. The book is extremely charming and certainly sets itself up for a sequel - which should be just as much fun as the original.

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