F is one of those books I can't get out of my head. The novel follows the lives of the three sons and father, all of whom struggle with issues of identity and destiny as they move through the world. That sentence just made it sound tedious, though. I should mention now that it's not weighed down by excruciating, soul searching, stream of consciousness, meandering weirdness that burdens some literary fiction. F is fun.
The father, Arthur, does indeed become a famous writer, but at what cost?
Son #1: Martin's goal is to become the world champion Rubik's Cube master and can solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute. While this feat is his life's ambition, though, he finds himself living as a priest...who doesn't believe in God.
Son #2: Eric becomes a financier and makes a huge amount of money, but then watches as his questionable decisions threaten disaster and his family unravels.
Son #3: An artist, Ivan should have had his own successful career as a world renowned painter, but instead he becomes a forger, creating the paintings that make another man famous and for whom he acts as agent.
A note about the translator: Daniel Kehlmann is a German writer and this novel was originally written in German. It does not suffer the fate of some translated works, seeming removed from an English-reading audience. I have never actually met Carol Brown Janeway, though she is an editor for Knopf and Pantheon (two of the publishers I represent). I have heard her present titles on the sales conference preparation CD's we receive, though, and the woman comes across sort of like the college professor whose course you audit because you just want to learn everything she has to say even though you didn't think you were interested in the topic. There is no finer translator of German to English that Janeway--you'd never know that the book was written in another language originally, which is the mark of a perfect translation. F is flawless.