This is less a final review and more the beginning of a reading of The Orange Eats Creeps, the strange, excellent debut novel by Grace Krilanovich. This is not intended to seem like a cop-out, but rather the only rational approach to discussing this unique work. The wealth of material at hand invites frantic acts of interpretation, making the reader an active collaborator in creating the story, even as it resists giving in to easy—or hard-won—conclusions. It is a slippery novel. It will never lay still and compromising in your hands, but the harder you hold on to it, the harder it is to hold. In confounding, it rewards: to borrow a line from the book, “It’s only a problem if you make it one.”
Strange and excellent are the right words, I think, but also, I think I worry I haven’t quite yet done this book justice. So I’ll probably say more about it. But not yet! Meaning you have time to decide whether this might be a book you would like, and then to go get yourself a copy, and read it, and then share your thoughts about it via your thought-sharing means of choice! Yes?
(Also, incidentally, I’ve decided one of the really fun things about writing these reviews for real publications (which reviews are, to be fair, intrinsically “fun” to write less in the sense of “wow eating this ice cream for dinner sure is fun” and more in the sense of “wow this is an awful lot of work and my head hurts where I tore all the hair out and maybe I’ll go out for ice cream when I’m done but in the mean time, screw it, let’s go clean the bathtub”) is that you get to put all this effort into writing the damn thing, and then it’s done, and it kind of just goes away for a while, and you forget about it, until one day you show up and hey, there it is, like a magical gift you left in the corner long ago for yourself to find much later, and it’s like, hey, sweet: free content you can share with your friends and family to give your life that sheen of seeming like one that something is being done with. It’s a nice feeling. It’s entirely secondary to having the chance to tell a bunch of people whether or not they should read a book, though, of course.)