Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles
Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles follows Finley, an investigator of sorts, as she fumbles her way through her latest mission and attempts to capture it all down on paper.
Though committed to its accuracy, the report is at times rambling, then repetitive, then self-edited to the extreme; in other words, not an easy read. Finley dives in to her assignment with no clear idea of what she’s meant to find, and with all the earnest desire for answers as a warped, post-modern Nancy Drew.
But this is no Nancy Drew mystery; there is no neatly wrapped up answer, no “aha” moment, no mask yanked off to reveal, “It was Old Man Whittaker all along!” Instead Finley peels away mask after mask with no progress made, never forward, only circular or even back the way she came. Through her take on the girl detective and her exploits, Kira Henehan attempts to color the classic noir with experimental, modern, often disjointed and disorienting writing, an unraveling ball of yarn playfully taking on the tightly-knit genre.
On assignment, Finley is thrust into the strange domestic world of a professor and his puppets, who exist behind a curtain in a miniature world that has a pulse and life force all its own. Her goal, as investigator, remains unclear throughout. When we meet Finley—and the hapless crew to which she is tied—they are maneuvering their way around a gray, barren, and gravel-strewn milieu. For all they know or share about their former lives, they could have been born yesterday, thrust upon this futuristic landscape with all the powers of speech and deduction and human emotions, but no remembrance or mention of a past. And yet faint threads do stitch them together in ways not yet fully understood. The twist of an ending forces Finley to question who the true puppet master is, and who among them may have been all along puppets themselves, dangling from his strings.
The remaining mash up of self-discovery, kitsch vintage surfing memorabilia, competition, potential romance, bowling, duplicity and shrimps fell flat. I wanted to be on board with this novel. I tried to appreciate every syntactical nuance or repetition to unlock the deeper meaning behind the prose. I wanted a juicy mystery, even if the style was too thoroughly “modern” for its own good.
But all told, I was left with an empty feeling in my stomach that a good book can usually fill. While this novel was interesting at times to wander the foreign landscape with Finley as she tries to solve puzzles both personal and professional, Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles just didn’t scratch my itch for a story, the way any self-respecting mystery should.