(Image Credit: Dundurn Press)
“Egg Island”, Sara Flemington’s debut novel, is a hodge-podge of dark humour and an adventure bereft of destination. Eighteen year old Julia, is on a quest to reach Egg Island. A place located in the middle of nowhere, and leading to nowhere, Egg Island may as well be a myth or an outcome of manufactured folklore. This mythical place – legend has it- accords a spectacular view of a rip in the sky, an Ozone hole. But what is most significant for Julia and her future, is that Egg Island may also contain the only key for Julia to locate her missing father. Keeping her mother and four year old twin brothers in the dark, Julia ferrets herself out her home and embarks on an uncertain and long trek to the elusive Egg Island.
Julia meets Colt, an eighteen year old lad of a gazillion eccentricities in a convenience store adjacent to a gas station. In unsolicited fashion, the tall chap wearing a studded belt and a crusty eyebrow, declares himself (and his grandfather’s car), allies in Julia’s quest. What follows is a series of bizarre escapades ranging from panhandling coins to stealing food, and everything in between. Colt, cars, colonies of hutterites, and cold nights later, the duo find themselves as far from their mission as they were at the commencement of their adventure.
“Egg Island” attempts at being a non-linear Murakami (was there ever a linear version of the man), takes a shot at being a poor man’s Jack Kerouac, while all along trying its best to sound and read like a benign impersonation of Mark Twain. In a futile bid to be all of these, it unfortunately ends up being none of them. Colt with his incessant chattering (most of which consist of mouthing corny lines), and an almost condescending demeanour, ends up being an absolute irritant. There comes a point in the book where you want to avoid him with the same enthusiasm that a cockroach takes to a repellant. Julia, even though the protagonist in the tale is more emblematic of vulnerability and uncertainty than an epitome of optimism and confidence.
The phalanx of characters who waft in and out of the book are more interlopers in a junkie rave – where entries and exits are neither manned nor managed – than surreptitious gatecrashers hoping to steal a meal at a wedding. At one point in time, Julia somehow manages to wriggle herself away from Colt and his car, only to end up in the house of a family of Germans where every woman puts Rapunzel to utter disdain. The combined length of their hair, in all probability, is longer than the safety lines that are required to be laid while traversing to the tip of Mount Everest, and back. Add a beheaded fowl (or was it a hen?) and a dead mouse to the mix, you almost feel yourself calling out for Colt. A call which unfortunately the man heeds in a jiffy.
There are however some redeeming passages that reinforce the need for, and the indispensable relevance of a symbiotic relationship between man and Mother Nature. A spontaneous combustion of delight which Colt and Julia feel at the sight of a small turtle abutting a clear stream, for example, conveys to the reader the pristine and giving attribute of nature. Colt unsurprisingly, and abruptly, cuts short the pleasure of the reader by engaging the turtle in an unwarranted and out of kilter monologue. If only turtles could demand aspirin!
(“Egg Island” by Sara Flemington is published by Dundurn Press and will be available for sale from the 9th of August 2022)
Thank you, Net Galley for the Advance Reviewer Copy!