March 15, 2017
Dan Chaon’s Ill Will follows a broken man as his life takes another sharp turn into the darkness
Were Ill Will only a skilled dismembering of a man’s self-image in pursuit of deeper truths, it would be impressive enough, but there’s so much more going on. To Chaon’s credit, Ill Will actually contains answers to its central mysteries – the death of Tillman’s family and the contemporary deaths – as well as resolutions to its central conflicts and questions – including Tillman’s relationships with Russell and Aaron – but these answers and resolutions are ultimately as unsettling as the mysteries and questions themselves. Ill Will serves as a vivid reminder of the sheer power of story, the force by which we shape our lives, and which can also tear them down.