Michael's Reviews > The Egg Said Nothing

The Egg Said Nothing by Caris O'Malley
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Nov 16, 10

bookshelves: 2010-and-after, fiction-that-speculates
Read in November, 2010



Caris done good.

There's that moment in the shitty middle Matrix movie where out of nowhere, hundreds of copies of Mr. Smith come pouring in. It's visually my favorite moment in the trilogy. It's wonderfully over-the-top and surreal. This book is like that.

It's also like when, in Timecrimes, you realize that the hero has royally fucked himself irreparably by dicking around with time, and you have a dawning sense of horror that things cannot, will not go back to how they were at first. (If you haven't seen this movie, GO GO GO GO GO! Wait, stop. Read The Egg Said Nothing. Then, GO GO GO GO GO!)

But, it's also a little like the sweet romance from Amelie, love spewing up believably from the dirty streets of Paris or wherever, and with both parts of the pair interesting and independent, neither just a foil for the other. It's like that, too.

This book proves that the inside of Caris's head is just as bizarre and unusual as the outside. We've always suspected this, but only now has it been proven.

First, Mr. O'Malley avoids all of the stumbling blocks I would've expected a bizarro book to trip over and crack its skull, and then lie there, bleeding and twitching on the pavement of mediocrity while everyone just walks past, with briefcases full of more pressing literary engagements, until some kids who watch too much pro wrestling come up and jack it for its Nikes....I don't know how that plays into the metaphor. Whatever. This book is chock full of murders via shovel, and YES, it's gratuitous. But, the gratuitous violence is secondary to a wicked-awesome plot that moves at five hundred miles an hour, steered with the precision of a skilled wordsmith until it runs at full speed into the brick wall of the inevitable conclusion.

And it's fucking hilarous. I completely disagree with Christy's review: I think the dialogue isn't entirely believable, but the awkwardness of the dialogue reflects the characters, and adds another kind of humour to an already hilarious book. The way our protagonist speaks to the guy who just tried to murder him?! The stilted conversations between the lovers?! the casualness with which the character brings up silent film stars?! It doesn't make the character believable, per se, but it makes the character vividly unreal, like the characters in the Gormenghast trilogy. (If you haven't read this, GO GO GO GO GO!) I mean, this motherfucker's day job is fountain diving for change. That alone had me laughing pretty much every time it happened.

Why only four stars? Well, this novella does a good job of exposing the confused, soggy underbelly of time travel, by giving us a story where there's literally so much time travel going on that, for a portion of the novella, I couldn't figure out the semantics of how any of it was working. I get lost in action sequences anyway, but when you have an action sequence with five versions of the same person involved, GAAAAAH! Confusion will strike me upside the head. Like a shovel.

And, although the book caught me off guard at numerous times, the ending seemed inevitable from early on. Also, as a reader, the egg didn't really do anything for the plot, other than serving as a symbol. (Granted, I might have guessed this from the title...)

SPOILERSPOILERSPOILERSPOILERSPOILERSPIOLERSPOILERSPOILERSPOILERSPOILER

And Meredith is down in the comments, screaming at me that the egg is the most important part. This is something I'm not sure I buy. Let me see if I can freewrite myself to understanding WTF she's talking about...after all, the egg is the beginning, the germination of Manny's idea about gender equality, and is also clearly a symbol of his femininity, a symbol of motherhood, which is his ability to take care of and nourish someone else--hence his newfound ability to love homegirl. But, then, it gets broken inadvertently, and there's a DVD inside of it that has himself from the future on it. I guess, from the point the egg breaks, I lose track of how it functions symbolically. But, Meredith is a smart cookie, and I read most of the novella while a little bit intoxicated, so I might just not get it.

Anyway, I'm also trying to take into account my fanatacism for The O'Malley himself...I may not be the president of his fan club, but I have fed him pasta and played with his baby. So, I'm trying to view my own love for this book with a grain of salt.

I have an uncle who is a songwriter down in New Orleans, who does really clever and well-written countryblues songs, but I would've probably given his CD three stars initially. Quite a while after I first listened to it, my parents had it on at their house, and it was playing in a different room, so I couldn't really hear the vocals, but it sounded SO FUCKING GOOD. And I said to dad, "What are you listening to? It's really fucking good!" (Except I didn't drop the 'F' bomb, because if I dropped it around my dad, he would've hit me in the face with a shovel. That's how my parents dealt with swearing.) And he said, "That's your uncle Jim's band," and THAT'S when I realized it really was a five star CD, and I wasn't just inflating my opinion of it because my uncle is awesome.

So, I might be doing a little of that here. Then again, Caris got five stars from just about everyone, so he can fucking deal.
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Reading Progress

11/14/2010 page 85
85.0% "Okay, I was planning on reading the whole thing tonight, but I'm drunk and tired. Review so far: Wow." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Michael I ought to do a drunk review, but not of Caris. The bar has already been set too high for reviews of this one. But maybe I'll drunk review the Ursula K Le Guin book I'm reading, if I ever finish it...


Jasmine Don't cave to peer pressure, lower the bar back down.


Jasmine there is a possibility that I will write a semi-drunk review tonight. I am hanging out at a bar till a show connor is in and I'll drink there too and I am close to the end of a horrible book.

It isn't as good as michael, but it could be fun.


message 4: by Caris (new)

Caris WHERE'S MY GODDAMNED REVIEW, YOU BASTARD?!


message 5: by Sparrow (last edited Nov 15, 2010 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sparrow I DO LOVE YOUR REVIEW! BUT THIS IS A FIVE-STAR BOOK, DAMMIT! THE EGG IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART, YA FLOOSIE!

Also, KI and I asked Caris: the confusing part is a time loop. Is that a spoiler? I think people should know.


Eh?Eh! Way to stick to your guns and not show favoritism to your secret lover!


Sparrow ******!!!!!!******!!!!SPOILERS!!!!!******!!!!!!!******

I guess, here's my thought about why the egg is the most important part. I might be extrapolating too freely, but I'm still going to try to say how it came together in my head. So, reproduction is kind of the "One Ring to bring them all to darkness" in gender relations, right? And the obvious solution to solving all of gender problems is to somehow allow men to bear children. Also, if we laid eggs in the way that Caris sets up, and the pain of childbirth and pregnancy was taken out of the mix, it solves the hostility on that side. So, Caris pulls out this easy fix for hostility between the genders. Men wouldn't feel alienated by missing out on the bonding of childbearing, women wouldn't feel hostile about the pain of it.

But, then, the fact that the egg is a ruse points out the silliness of focusing on reproduction as the source of gender tension at all. Then, Caris does all that great stuff with self-sabotage, self-loathing, and random male violence. And I love love love the couple, but I also love that the girl becomes a casualty of Manny's own self loathing and anxiety about finding a solution to gender relations.

I don't know if most of that makes sense, but those are my thoughts about it.


Sparrow Also, I agree with what you said about the dialog and Christy's criticism. I thought it was so hilarious how some versions of him talked like that.


Michael the confusing part is a time loop.

Where is the time loop? WHAT is the time loop? What is the purpose of the egg after it hatches a DVD? Help me to understand; I am an uneducated lesbian who doesn't understand the intentions of authors.

Way to stick to your guns and not show favoritism to your secret lover!

Hey, there's nothing secret about our love. You lesbians better not be molesting him up there in the arctic north.


Sparrow SPOILERS AGAIN!!!

I think he's stuck in the time loop from the beginning of the book, but he doesn't know it until the end when he circles around and kills himself.

Well, the egg's not even there after he finds the DVD, right? It's just the symbol of him solving gender relations, I think. WHY IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU? I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.


Michael Ooops..I see you anticipated my questions...or else have access to time travel. That actually makes a lot of sense, but I hadn't pieced all of that together yet. Thanks, Meredith!


Sparrow Oh, I get it. I thought you had read my comment and were still confused, so I started crying. But good. YAY!! I'm glad it makes sense.


Michael I think he's stuck in the time loop from the beginning of the book

But, does that explain the numerous copies of himself that were all showing up at the same time? Although that was really funny, it also didn't make sense to me.

The egg thing makes more sense now that you've explained your thinking about it. I guess the egg being destroyed was the beginning of when we, and Manny as well, started piecing together that things were amiss. So, that's when the possibility of this gender idea disappeared. I guess that would explain the loss of the egg...but the DVD still doesn't work for me. I mean, how did future Manny version 8 put an egg shell around a DVD? Why didn't the egg just disappear, or get smashed and be filled with blood and half-formed Manny baby? I'm sorry, Meredith, I guess there's just no pleasing me when it comes to the egg.


Michael Don't cry because I've voiced more areas of confusion...if I'd known this was such an emotional topic for you, I wouldn't have dissected it so much.

And, Caris, I hope you aren't crying, either. I loved the novella, but I always find things to bitch about.


Sparrow No that doesn't make me cry. Actually, they were probably more law-school-related tears.

Future Manny version 8 can do that because he can do whatever the fuck he wants. There are no scientific limits to future Manny. Also, since future Manny put past Manny in a loop, there are infinity number of Mannys looping around. I think there was a DVD inside because that's what happened. But, I think it makes sense for it to get smashed because it's kind of stressful, and he wasn't being very careful. Even though he has the capacity to solve gender relations if a certain confluence of events happened, he's not the smartest guy ever, right?


message 16: by Caris (new)

Caris Michael wrote: "Don't cry because I've voiced more areas of confusion...if I'd known this was such an emotional topic for you, I wouldn't have dissected it so much.

And, Caris, I hope you aren't crying, eithe..."


I'm crying on the inside. But on the outside? I'm building a Michael out of paper mache in order to hide a DVD inside of its impacted colon.


Jasmine ... I don't agree about the egg being important because it gives men the ability to procreate at all.

I think it is important when he is taking care of it and it changes the way he interacts with himself as a person. But I'm just saying.


Michael Future Manny version 8 can do that because he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

Nope, that's cheating. Even if Manny version 8 could do whatever he wanted, why would he randomly put a DVD in an egg? Just so it functions symbolically for the story that he doesn't realize he's in? OR DOES HE REALIZE IT?

Well, shouldn't he have realized the egg weighed next to nothing and was off-balance when the DVD was in it? Or was something else in it and it transformed? See, I just get confused by this egg/DVD thing.

I'm building a Michael out of paper mache in order to hide a DVD inside of its impacted colon.

The Michael blow-up doll you keep in your bedroom is one thing, but the paper mache Michael is just too much, Caris.

I think it is important when he is taking care of it and it changes the way he interacts with himself as a person.

I see it functioning in both these ways...but, on my own, I would've only figured out that the egg is a symbol of him coming to terms with his feminine side. I didn't pick up the broader implications of the egg-laying upon society, just on Manny as a person.


Scribble Orca Why I like your review: reference to non-bizarro (very important for contextual plebians like me), graphic description which avoids blowing the whistle on the plot, and the deep and meaningful discussion generated in this thread about the relevance of inarticulate ova to gender roles in the procreation process. Or not.

But the shovel will no doubt do my head in.


Michael Thanks, G N! Glad you liked it.


Sparrow Michael wrote: "I see it functioning in both these ways...but, on my own, I would've only figured out that the egg is a symbol of him coming to terms with his feminine side. I didn't pick up the broader implications of the egg-laying upon society, just on Manny as a person."

Yeah, I don't know. I may have taken it too far, but that's where it went for me.

I think you're over-thinking the DVD, though. The egg was the symbolic message to himself, I think, and then the DVD was the actual message to himself. Or, maybe there's more explanation in the longer version, and it's not just all about beating up people in wheelchairs. I'll let you know.


Michael I tend to overthink just about everything, so you're probably right. Ooh, I want to read the longer version, too! Caris, me too me too!


message 23: by Caris (new)

Caris Fuck you, DVD analyst.


Michael You have so much pent up anger, Caris. Maybe you ought to try meditating. It may keep you from beheading people (with shovels) in the desert.


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