In the novel Prospect of My Arrival author Dwight Okita tries to do what many people have done before him , which is figure out he meaning of this bizarre, funny, painful, boring, over stimulating hybrid we call life. What sets this philosopher-poet apart is how he tackles the question. The plot is simple, the main character Prospect has three weeks to decide if he wants to be born or not. He gets to try life and see if it is something he wants to experience, without all the commitment that being born entails, or if he wants to return to the primordial goo that we all originally hail from.
The story is well told and finding out that the author is a poet explains his attention to details. The characters are wonderfully flawed so beautifully that one can imagine people in their own lives that they have met that could very well be characters from the book. The story itself is poignant and a reader cannot help be forced to contemplate the very questions that Prospect contemplates. I would argue Prospect asks the questions, feels the bewilderment and innocent joys of the new world much they way we should, but fail to do.
What impressed me the most was the fair treatment that Okita gave all sides. He does not force answers on you, in fact I would be hard pressed except for the ending to be able to point to anything that technically counts as an opinion on his part. Instead he shows , though his charactes the aruguements in a rational way about a number of very controversial subjects. He tackles bioethics, the morality of adopting and giving away children for adoption in a ‘disposable’ society, business ethics, what constitutes a family, the role of science and are we playing God, and those were just the ones that came to mind within a single breath.
This book , admittedly, may be more attractive for people with open minds. People with political leanings one way or another would be offended and then moments later be supportive and then once again wronged on a deep level. However if you open your mind, if you are capable of listening to well structured arguments, and in this case I a mean classical arguments not what you see on cable news, you will find yourself swayed equally by both sides in the numerous arguments he has disguised as a story.
Clichés and hyperbole are like a well worn pair of shoes, usually they are ugly but they sometimes fill a specific need accurately so please bear with me a moment. This is probably one of the most philosophically important books since Siddartha, possibly even more so. It is something every high school and college students should read because it will teach them critical thinking skills. It is also very well suited for adults, particularly those who crave mental stimulation and interesting discussions. It is good for trips and can be a quick read on an easy day. Hopefully this book will not get overlooked because the author is relative unknown, the world would be missing out on a very important work of philosophical and literary achievement.
Throughout the book you will find yourself the same question the Prospect did…If I had a chance to preview life and had the choice to be born or not, what would I do?