Late at night, when everyone is sound asleep, and we feel like nobody is physically or virtually looking over our shoulder, those of us wishing to stroke our ego, might google our names. We’re craving that large, if affirming, Internet footprint somehow equating this with success or that we’ve made our mark. Of course there are those who aren’t quite so vain—nor paranoid—and out of sheer curiosity do the same any time of day.
But the New Brunswick born writer Chris Eaton googled “Chris Eaton” for another reason. Instead he was searching for individuals other than himself. Although they had distinctively different biographies from he, Eaton discovered he had connections with them, and they with each other. This fuelled his novel Chris Eaton, A Biography, an entertainingly hilarious, but also intellectual, reflective, even emotional work of fiction inspired by snapshots of real Chris Eatons across the globe.
Eaton gleaned “factual” profile information online and from this concocted individual anecdotes weaved together into a communal biography. In the book, Chris Eaton is young and old, male and female, gay and straight, blue collar and white collar, a nun and a soldier, a musician and an artist, a researcher and a poet, a Christian mission worker in Haiti, a backpacker in Europe…
It is never completely certain which Chris Eaton is explored at any given time. But this should not be of any concern; in fact this is seemingly Eaton, the author’s, intention. In an interesting April 2014 CBC Radio interview, he said, “In this case, I think that really the details of the stories are not really as important as the fact that I think we’re all as human beings striving for something… struggling to attain goals and understand yourself.”
That underlying purpose aside, the additional, quirky details are what make diving into the book, even non-sequentially, so much fun or enlightening. For example there are the jokes a young, socially awkward, highly intelligent Chris Eaton “told incessantly” categorized by whether or not he understood them; or the liner notes for folk musician Chris Eaton’s album, which describe her band’s go-go dancer, a Serbian dwarf named Roussimoff. But then there are the more serious contemplations such as from the Chris Eaton who observed the “abject poverty” in Panama where they “couldn’t even afford to have hopes and dreams”.
Chris Eaton, A Biography is kind of like that dessert—perhaps a rich piece of key lime cheesecake or a deep fried Mars bar —not necessarily craved but once devoured at one’s ideal pace, is delectably satisfying. ~ Reviewed by Michelle Brunet
Chris Eaton, A Biography
A novel by Chris Eaton