I get nervous anytime I see a literary award embossed on a book cover. I’ve so rarely enjoyed the award-winning books I’ve read that I’ve come to the personal feeling that literary awards are given for a book’s form more than for their stories. I continue to feel that way with Stephen Dixon’s Interstate.
The very basic story: a man is driving along a highway with his two young daughters in the vehicle and another car pulls up showing signs of aggressive road rage. How does the man respond? The passenger in the other car waves a gun. How does the father respond? The man fires the gun and the father notices that one of his daughters has been hit with a bullet. How does the father respond?
Dixon explores this story over and over in a series of stream-of-consciousness alternatives (with paragraphs running two or three pages long).
The initial story was engrossing and horrific. If there is one story you DON’T want to relive, it’s the shooting of your child and of course that’s what Dixon gives us.
Although Dixon’s writing is fluid and engaging and, as a father, I felt the father’s anger, fear, and absolute helplessness.
But do I need to?
There are reasons people go on thrill rides or watch scary movies – I understand that. And there are reasons people would probably put themselves through a story like this. But it’s awfully specific and this is definitely not a story that I enjoyed in any way.
The stream of consciousness writing has never appealed to me. I find it to be self-indulgent author manipulation and, as I mentioned earlier, a strong case of form over story.
Looking for a good book? Unless you are interested in alternative fiction or really enjoy depressing stories delivered in an oblique manner, you might best avoid Interstate by Stephen Dixon.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Stephen Dixon
publisher: Dzanc Books
Kindle edition, 384 pages