Melville House Publishing, HB, £20.00
Reviewed by Rym Kechacha
Describing a book as a philosophical novel of ideas might induce dread in some. You might be thinking about info dumps, quotations from obscure German thinkers, and confusingly mind-bending problems you’ve never considered before, but Mr. Breakfast by Jonathan Carroll is not at all like that. It’s concerned with the trajectory of ordinary lives such as mine and yours, and it’s propelled by those kinds of questions about heaven and earth that plague us in the small hours of the morning and as we’re sobering up after celebrations for birthdays with a 0 in the number. How could things have been different? What should I have done with my life? Is it too late to do any of those other things? And how on earth will I know?
Graham Patterson is a man in search of a direction. Failing at his dream of being a stand-up comedian, he takes a last-hurrah road trip before he gives up comedy forever. Stopping along the road, he gets an unusual tattoo on impulse; an image of a bee inside a frog inside a hawk inside a lion. This gives him the ability to visit two other versions of his own life and choose which one he wants to stay in. After that, Graham’s life – all three of them – intersects with those he loves and others who have also got the ‘breakfast’ tattoo until he has to make a choice and stick with it forever…