Review: The Egg Said Nothing by Caris O’Malley

January 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm (Bizarro, Review, Writing)

What would you do if you woke up one morning with an egg planted neatly between your legs? That’s the central question of Caris O’Malley’s debut novel: The Egg Said Nothing. The book’s egg-laying everyman is Manny, and we as an audience get to enjoy watching him deal with the aftermath of a night he cannot remember, but the book goes beyond simple storytelling and into a psychological meta-fictional space. Because Manny is such an identifiable character, a real everyman for our generation, I found myself drawn into his mind and wondering what I would do in a similar situation. As the book progresses into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, complete with time-shifting strangers and violent (and hilarious) action sequences, the reader is forced to confront the dwindling options and strange reality along with the protagonist. This is the triumph of O’Malley’s novel: The prose style and the character’s narration are perfectly crafted to fit into a space not quite in, but next to, our own reality. We know Manny. We are Manny. And we too, might someday have a terrible shovel-related incident.

It is difficult to write about The Egg Said Nothing without giving away the clever twists that O’Malley has devised for poor Manny to suffer through. The author understands how to use the hubris of a main character against himself, and we watch as Manny makes all the wrong choices out of paranoia and selfishness, but we also understand that he has few other options. Every choice he makes opens a new door and closes off several others. Let me say simply that Caris O’Malley’s use of time-travel and/or alternate time-streams is extremely well done. Too often in time and space skewing fiction, the physics loom over the narrative and make for a less engaging story, but not here. In the middle of the book, the clever reader will start to see how time and space are twisting in the world of this book, long before poor Manny does, which makes watching him screw up his life even further a painful and cathartic experience. Manny is juggling a new love interest (the delightful Ashley), shadowy murderers in his hallway and a million reasons to lock every one of his nine or so locks at night. The wonderful thing is, all this is not confusing for the reader, just for Manny, and we have masterful writing to thank for that.

The Egg Said Nothing is highly recommended, both for O’Malley’s sense of humor and for his ability to take a well-worn trope (the mechanics of time) and make them fresh and new again by introducing a simple set of rules and running with them. The ending of this book was predictable only in that there are clues woven throughout the book for mystery-lovers and the like to pick up on, but when it comes barreling in, it’s still a shocking and powerful trip. This is the kind of book that elicits a wonderful emotional response, somewhere between a laugh, a twitch and a shudder, and that is the highest compliment I can give. Not to be missed!

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1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Rose is awesome! | Caris O'Malley. Writer. said,

    […] out the great review he wrote for my silly egg book. And enjoy this picture of David the […]

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