Monday, January 27, 2014

The Egg Said Nothing

The Egg Said Nothing, Caris O'Malley
21 to 23 June 2012
4.5 / 5 stars

Dear Caris,

Do you mind if I call you that? It's how you signed your most recent message so I'm assuming that we're on a first-name basis now. Please let me know if I'm being too forward because my social ineptitude likes to make itself known even on the internets.

I've been meaning to read The Egg for quite some time but prefer doing almost everything in the hazy future. What finally propelled me toward your novella were two overwhelmingly common factors in all the reviews I read: One, everyone seemed to either like it quite a bit or REALLY like it more than just a bit; and two, no one is willing to say much about why they liked it so much for fear, they say, of divulging too much of the plot and ruining the first-time reading experience for others.

Sure, I was starting to wonder if the latter phenomenon was a cop-out or simply lazy reviewing. Then I thought maybe some folks were conspiring to shroud
The Egg in mystery so that those of us who are insatiably inquisitive would have to break down and buy the book to stave off the creeping madness that too much unresolved curiosity brings. Finally, I considered that maybe some reviewers were following the novella's titular action and, in fact, deliberately said nothing. Turns out, I was wrong on all counts: It really is hard to offer a detailed commentary on such a tightly written piece without spoiling the surprises that make The Egg such a joy to read. Will I follow previous reviewers' tactful lead? Meh, not entirely.

So! Let's talk about your book a little--rather, let me talk vaguely about how fucking rad your book is. Because it is. So far as I can remember (last week was a long time ago), I had exactly one issue with it: Every time I glanced at the page number, the book was closer to being over. Maybe you can work on that for your follow-up offering? I'm sure there's a fancy, newfangled way to push a novel into the infinite-page-count realm these days. Look into that, okay?

By the time your hero Manny and his love-interest Ashley found themselves in a laundromat, I was desperately wishing that someone would make this into a movie. Because even with a giant egg and paradoxes born of time travel, yours is a thoroughly relatable piece of fiction. In fact, the juxtaposition of Manny's believable reactions, motivations and wishes against the unbelievably crazy shit that dogs him created more effective suspense than I've seen in books three times as long. To steal a line I previously used, what I liked best about your book (and I did like an awful lot about it) is that Manny remains convincingly, sympathetically human while dealing with some.... well, bizarre problems.

To further rip off a previous communique of mine, it seemed that your book had something to say about the uselessness of fighting what's fated to be for the sake of an individual's short-sighted desires--a bigger-picture, greater-good sort of moral, if you will. It is downright refreshing to encounter a time-travel tale that didn't blindly accept the sanctity of the future, which is how I imagine a real-life confrontation with time travel would actually go down. Whether it was my own weakness for broken, down-on-their-luck characters, Manny's genuine likability or a combination of the two, it was increasingly difficult to watch the protagonist's honest efforts to fix things himself only further ensnare him in his increasingly upside-down existence.

In the end, I came for the bizarro; I stayed because I got way too emotionally invested in the characters. Please don't ever abandon the cruel mistress that is word-slinging. You've got a lot to offer her. And your readers.


P.S.: Please note how I did not once call your story "eggs-cellent." I need a cigarette after the kind of willpower I've demonstrated in avoiding such an obvious opportunity for punny business.

P.P.S.: I fucking HATE clowns but would put aside that phobia long enough to read about them if you're the one at the tale's helm. The glory-hole story, however, shouldn't even be a question. Kindly add me to the list of people who want to read that yesterday.

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