You start by making the outline, the straight edge pieces making the shape of your puzzle. In What is the What, Dave Eggers gives you a rough outline of the story right at the beginning... eliminating all the suspense from the story, in my point of view. But at the same time, he is also creating an empty space that you have to fill to be satisfied.
Next, you fill in the puzzle. It's very confusing at first, you have very little idea of where each tiny piece should go, what the final picture will be like. It's the same in the book, because you don't know how each detail fits into the story as Eggers chops back and forth between present and past.
Finally, the last few pieces. As you fit them in, everything makes sense. You can see the full picture. In What is the What, the final bombs are dropped in the last few chapters: Tabitha's death, his family reunion, Noriyaki's death, the 9/11 attacks just before he leaves to America... I would never have believed that so many twists and turns could happen to just one man in his lifetime.
|Jigsaw Mashup by giveawayboy on Flickr.|
|America by Cayusa on Flickr.|
What were the results from his MRI scans? Did he go and live with Moses? What about the imaginary man in the desert? Did Duluma die or get sent to jail?
And most importantly... No matter how much I think about this, I can't solve it. I think I'm onto something, but then some piece of evidence from the book, like a quote or a truth, ruins my idea. What is the What?
from the Purple Owl :)
P.S. If this sounded like a book review, I'm sorry. All my thoughts kind of came out on this virtual paper as a very critical analysation, but they were just what I was thinking as I turned the final page of the book.