Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Jul 28th, 2020, 3:22 pm

TITLE: The Parade
AUTHOR: Dave Eggers
GENRE: Fiction > General Fiction/Classics
RATING: ★★★★☆


Description: From a beloved author, a spare, powerful story of two men, Western contractors sent to work far from home, tasked with paving a road to the capital in a dangerous and largely lawless country.

Four and Five are partners, working for the same company, sent without passports to a nation recovering from ten years of civil war. Together, operating under pseudonyms and anonymous to potential kidnappers, they are given a new machine, the RS-90, and tasked with building a highway that connects the country's far-flung villages with the capital. Four, nicknamed "The Clock," is one of the highway's most experienced operators, never falling short of his assigned schedule. He drives the RS-90, stopping only to sleep and eat the food provided by the company. But Five is an agent of chaos: speeding ahead on his vehicle, chatting and joking with locals, eating at nearby bars and roadside food stands, he threatens the schedule, breaks protocol, and endangers the work that they must complete in time for a planned government parade. His every action draws Four's ire, but when illness, corruption, and theft compromise their high-stakes mission, Four and Five discover danger far greater than anything they could pose to one another.

Review: The Parade is one of those books that take you into an adventure and will leave you thinking about what you have just read. Throughout the journey, you will find two main characters (called Four and Nine for security reasons) and several secondary characters that will not leave you indifferent.

The plot is pretty clear. These two main characters have a mission to accomplish: Build a road that connects the rural south with the more modern industrial north. They had better finish on time since there is a popular parade planned to celebrate this union in a country that has been at war for some time. Pretty simple so far; however, appearances and disappearances of the characters involved in the story will make this mission increasingly challenging. And not only are people absent at crucial times, but things also go missing. Vital, needed things.

The job will take 12 days. Pave and paint with a machine that does pretty much all the hard work. Four will drive it and Nine will open the way on a quad making sure there are no obstacles ahead. And he could come in handy since he speaks the local language. They say opposites attracted but Nine and Four’s relationship is a hard one to match. To discover whether they will become friends means you must read on.

Even though The Parade is a very easy book to read, my mind decided to cast Four and Nine as Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell. Surprisingly, for no reason whatsoever those two actors instantly came to mind. I also immediately started to feel growing hate towards Nine. Especially, the language he uses when talking about women. Some crude examples are:
He raised an eyebrow lewdly. “I’ll loan you my girl”

“You know what she cost?” Nine asked, his mouth full. He did not wait for Four to answer. “Less than what we’re paying for breakfast. And she was fresher than this,” he said, jabbing his fork at the wet grapefruit before him.

Maybe especially that type, the supposedly demure and supplicating. They have a sexy way, right?

Once Eggers starts writing, you want to know how these two will end up. No spoiler (so do not worry) but there is quite a finale to the story you will encounter. Just keep on reading, this road will definitely take you somewhere. The author manages to keep the reader interested even if it seems not much is happening in some chapters.

Language usage is another appealing aspect of this book; descriptions that make the whole thing pretty vivid and realistic:
Four glanced over to see that a family of five had arranged themselves on one small scooter, and soon passed them and swung into their lane. Two of the children were standing on the runner in front of their father, whose wife clung tight to him with a baby strapped to her back. The baby, fast asleep and its face cloudy with diesel fumes, wore a stocking cap covered with jewels and bells.

Or just beautiful language:
And everywhere there were men like Medallion, ignited by purpose.

I could easily imagine this story as a theatre play. It made me think about so many things. How patience would you manage to be before you decide to report on your colleagues’ behaviour to a superior; how much isolation would you be able to handle in a job that advises you not to make any contact with the locals; if you were the president of a country at war, what would you give up for peace? What would it take to make you break the rules you have been imposed by some authoritarian figure, live by the rules just in case or carpe diem? I am sure it will make you come up with other relevant dilemmas we can all face at some point in our lives.

Justice, courage, friendship, corruption, lies, prejudice, politics, war… life in general, are some of the best-developed topics in the story as I see it. Topics that are most surely relevant to most of us.

A few of my favourite quotes from the book:
A line of schoolchildren walked by wearing khaki pants and bright white shirts and carrying books donated by some distant government.

And so what we do here matters even though I don’t personally matter.

The company referred to such a problem, to any problem, as an anomaly, and anomalies reflected badly on everyone involved.

To be pressured into hospitality was no hospitality at all.

“Come back in an hour,” a woman’s voice said. “Barça’s on.”

“Without the war and its waste,” Medallion explained, “you would not be here.”

I highly recommend you to embark on this mission that will make you reflect on the crucial elements of life and humanity, especially in times of great need. Give The Parade a chance. It will present you with precious reflections that could be useful sooner or later in life. A journey to be taken, a story to be heard. It doesn’t take long and it will most assuredly stick with you long after you have read and enjoyed this book.
Jul 28th, 2020, 3:22 pm
Jul 31st, 2020, 12:51 am
I passed on this, but might give it a shot after reading this review.
Jul 31st, 2020, 12:51 am
Aug 6th, 2020, 1:20 am
Thanks for this review, loved it, my interest is piqued!
Aug 6th, 2020, 1:20 am

My Favourite/Recommended Book series:
The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin, The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks, The Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe