The Honor of Your Presence by Dave Eggers

This is a pleasing little Covid-era novella. I hadn’t realized when I saw it at the library that this book was “the second in a series of stories” that Eggers is planning to eventually combine into a larger work, but that doesn’t really matter: it feels like a standalone thing, though now I’m curious to read the first one as well.

The book opens with Helen, a 31-year-old graphic designer whose specialty is “event invitations of the high-end category”, pondering her Uncle Peter, who is 61 and has come back to California after decades in London. Peter, we learn, who is “known as a wild card, a character, a piece of work,” now lives in Helen’s garage; he’d been a set painter in London but spent his savings since he was out of work when theaters shut down for Covid. Peter is social; Helen is generally not; Peter tells her she’s alone too much, and says they should go to one of the events she designed the invites for. Not a wedding, but maybe a fundraising gala. Helen is worried about getting caught and getting in trouble, but Peter talks her into going to a costume party at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and events ensue from there.

I don’t want to say a ton about the book’s plot, but: I like the descriptions of the party at the aquarium (and, spoiler alert, the other parties that Peter and Helen crash) a lot, and I also like the way the novel ends.






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