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9th February
2011
written by Steph

Way back in 2010, I read a rave review of Orion You Came And You Took All My Marbles over at Hungry Like the Woolf. Better yet, Kerry was hosting a giveaway and I was lucky enough to win! Don’t you just love it when that happens? From Kerry’s review, I knew I was in for a wild and crazy ride, but this is the kind of book that defies description. The only way to understand what it is is to get up close and personal your very self. It’s the only way you have half a chance of appreciating the absurd, befuddling world that first-time author Kira Henehan has created. With books this good, simply hearing from someone else how good they are is a bit like having salt rubbed in a wound. I mean, I’d hate to steal all the fun of it from you. Talking to you about this book is almost like taking a picture of something amazing, like the Eiffel Tower, and expecting you to feel like you were standing at its base. Or perhaps even worse, it might be more like taking a picture of a picture of the Eiffel Tower, diluting its power even further. That’s not to say everyone will enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s very discursive and rambling and has a barely-there plot. I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that nothing happens; instead it might be more accurate to say that so much happens it’s difficult to figure out what the real story is. Tangents layer upon one another until it’s hard to figure out which way to turn in order to advance the plot. And yet I was never frustrated, mostly because I LOVED the writing so very much. For me the tangents that Finley (the central protagonist) goes off on accurately mimicked a speech pattern (or patter?) that I really connect with; there was a charm to her way of speaking that made me deeply envious, because I certainly wish I could recreate it myself, and perhaps sometimes I do (y’all know I have a fondness for the run-on sentence). Henehan’s language is just so playful and I really responded to her dry, rambling sense of humor. When I wasn’t simply luxuriating in the pure sense of joy for the English language that her writing evoked, I was very often making very unladylike snorts of amusement because plain and simple I thought this book was funny with a capital FUN. But what is this book really about? Who knows! Reading the back-blurb you might be tempted to think it’s a mystery, but anyone who approaches it as such will likely be disappointed because of the aforementioned circular/spiraling plot, and also there’s the whole part where when you get to the end, it’s utterly baffling. The only thing about the ending that I’m certain about is that I didn’t understand it one jot (nor did I see it coming). If you are the kind of reader who needs to understand everything (or at least 60%) in a book in order to enjoy it, then this is a book that will drive you bananas. I am fairly confident that I could read it over and over again and not get it, but I’m fine with that because for me the greatest strength here was Finley and all the oddball thoughts that run through her mind. And I covet Henehan’s writing style: ever sentence was so good, so precise, so exactly right. I truly can’t wait to see what she writes next. If this review is a jumble that fails to really say anything, I apologize, and yet perhaps that is the most honest homage I can pay to the book that spawned it. I strongly urge you to check out Kerry’s review of the book, which is chock-full with plenty of quotes, and is far more eloquent than I have proven to be. In closing,  I will leave you with an observation of Finley's that not only made me laugh but that perhaps sums the book up perfectly.
One learns that certain questions are unanswerable. This is why we need words like ‘conundrum’.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

10 Comments

  1. 02/09/2011

    Steph,

    Great review of this breathtakingly original and, as you point out, very funny novel. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it. I was a little concerned because it is so different from any other novel I have read, maybe it was just me. Now, at least, it is you and me.

    I already am eager for Henehan’s next.

  2. 02/09/2011

    But what is it about? ;D You have made me extremely curious about this book, and I tend to enjoy novels that have next to no plot but fantastic writing.

  3. 02/09/2011

    Huh…can’t tell if this sounds terrifying or interesting!

  4. 02/10/2011

    Murakami has taught me to let go of my need to understand what’s going on in a book to enjoy it. So I think I might be ready for this 😛

  5. 02/10/2011

    Your description of this book reminds me a lot of Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross. Both of them seem to have rambling and nonsensical plots, though in the end, Mr. Peanut warps up really nicely (I think) I would love to read this one, and even if I didn’t get half of it, your enthusiasm has me believing that this is a book I will love. I totally trust your recommendations, so this one goes on the list!

  6. 02/10/2011

    @ Kerry: I feel so lucky that I won your giveaway for this book. It truly is a gem and I feel so happy to have discovered it! Can’t wait for Henehan’s next! 😀
     
    @ Bina: Oh, if only I could easily tell you what this book is about: It involves puppets and an investigation firm, amnesia and a preponderance of shimp… It truly can’t be summed up easily! Really all you need to know is the writing is dazzling!
     
    @ Amanda: It might be a bit of both, but in the best way possible! At least there aren’t any talking animals, so no need to fear that! 😀
     
    @ Nymeth: This is definitely a lot wilder than the one Murakami I’ve read, but in some ways it did have a similar vibe. I could see you having a lot of fun with this one.
     
    @ zibilee: I have a copy of Mr. Peanut and am looking forward to (eventually) reading it! I think this one is probably a bit more convoluted than that one, but still really enjoyable, so long as you don’t need everything tied up in a neat bow at the end.

  7. […] Steph & Tony Investigate! investigates one of my favorite small press offerings from 2011: Kira Henehan’s debut novel Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles. For something fresh and intelligent, buy this book. […]

  8. 02/14/2011

    WOW! The epitome of a raving review 🙂 I’ll add it to my wishlist!

  9. 02/18/2011

    I cannot wait to read this book – I remember reading about it at Hungry Like a Woolf, and wrote it in my TBR file, but now I must get a copy soon. Great review!

  10. 02/20/2011

    @ Michelle: Yes, Kerry’s review was very persuasive! I really think you’ll love this one – it seems right up your alley! Very quirky and clever.

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