Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles by Kira Henehan would, I suppose, fall into the experimental category. It is surreal and weird and things don’t always make sense but sometimes do later and sometimes never. But while it is strange it isn’t strange in an impossible way and it is often funny.
The premise of the book is an investigative report. Finley, our red-headed yellow-eyed heroine is the writer of the report. She is investigating Professor Uppal and his puppets. Neither we nor Finley know the objective of the investigation which of course makes investigating a bit difficult.
Finley works with fellow investigators Murphy and The Lamb. Their boss is Binelli who gives them their assignments and criticizes their work. Finley is jealous of The Lamb who has beautiful curly hair and seems to be a super intellectual. There are three chapters in the book in which Finley presents a different possibility in each on how The Lamb’s freakish intelligence came about. They are wild postulations that are quite amusing.
Something else important about Finley and upon which the story turns: she can’t remember anything of her life from before The Silence. Finley’s great talent is being able to win any standoff that involves silence and stillness or maintaining a straight face. She is so good at it that once she was silent for so long she forgot who she was. During the course of her investigation of Professor Uppal and his puppets, she is also investigating herself.
I’m not quite sure how to tell you anything else about this book so I will give you a couple of scenes. In this scene Finley and Tiki Ty whose place the whole team is staying at and who makes shrimps and dipping sauce that bring on bliss to all who partake, are visiting Kiki B, a character we don’t know much about other than that she lives at Battersea at the moment because she needs to rest. During the visit they have a picnic that is like no other especially when they get to the cakes course:
We were all beached together on the bed by the picnic’s natural conclusion, covered in crumbs. The cakes course had been vigorous. We’d looked at one another in the eyes and made a silent commitment, however, to see the thing through to the end. We sallied forth, forged ahead, through black forest and pecan and varieties of pumpkin as well as of course the families sponge, yellow, and angel.
We made a team the likes of which had been sorely missed on this earth since the time of the ancient Olympiads.
This made me want cake very badly, but not as much cake as they had. Just a slice. Maybe two.
There is another scene towards the end of the book in which a dance hall suddenly appears in the night and Finley goes in, drawn by the music:
The people inside took no notice of my frug’s flawlessness, a flawless frug just par for the course in a joint like this. I took a partner and we took care of business. We mashed the potato. We did the twist. We popped the corn and hankied the panky and we walked the dog until the dog planted his back legs as best he could on such a polished wood floor and refused to go any farther.
My nameless partner and I separated with empty promises and tearful gaspings, and I limped to the refreshment stand to punch myself sated for the next round.
Punch, the red beverage. Not punch, the fists of fury. Punching myself with the fists of fury would have had the opposite effect than that intended. Punching myself would have made further dancing impossible, and my objective with the punch – the red beverage punch – was to make farther dancing not only possible but unstoppable.
I drank one punch quickly and then ladled another to sip over time.
I knew how to take a punch.
I wasn’t wowed by the book, but I did enjoy it. It was something very different than the usual and oddly, it worked as a great counterpoint to Carlyle (who I am still reading). This book is definitely not for everyone. You have to be willing to suspend your constant desire and need to make sense of things. If you can’t manage that then you and this book will not get along.
Thanks to Milkweed Editions for sending me the book.