Tangerinephant by Kevin Dole 2. Review by Jeff Burk
Calling to mind Futurama by way of House of Leaves, Tangerinephant is the ambitious first novel from Kevin Dole 2. In the opening we meet Michael Tangerinephant, whose life has been falling apart due to being abducted by TV-addicted aliens, being the fall-man for a corporate scandal, and being in trouble with his prostitute girlfriend (complete with vagina implants in her armpits).
Using these three plotlines, Dole satirizes our culture's obsession with media, the impact the corporate world has on us, and the difficulties humans have relating to one another. Michael is just an average Joe. Despite his droidlocs and anal blade, the reader will find it easy to relate to him as his world spins out of control due problems not of his own making.
The story moves swiftly as the three storylines constantly overlap, but not all three storylines are handled with equal strength. Michael's dealings with the aliens and his company are constantly engaging, while his story involving Elyse, his girlfriend, gets lost for most of the book. Elyse spends much of the book on the sidelines without an active role in the story. While there is great emotional pay-off at the end, one wishes Dole could have made Elyse active for more of the book. When she does play a major role, her character is funny and provides emotional-grounding to other two far-out plots.
Worthy of note is the unique manner in which the story is told. Dole employs an interesting writing style to relate the unsure reality perspective of Michael. He combines multiple words in order relate multiple feelings being expressed at the same moment. To illustrate, here is an excerpt from chapter one:
"He is sleepy, floating. The green stuff in the tube must be a mild
hallucinarcotic. It's in his lungs but no choking, he just feels heavy in the chest and head, he isó
While this may seem jarring at first, the reader quickly becomes accustomed to the writing style. Once one get past this, it allows the reader to become immersed in Michael Tangerinephant's world and the story flows with ease.
Originally winning the Eraserhead's First Novel Competition in 2003 and later published by Afterbirth Books in 2005, Tangerinephant is a surreal science-fiction novel, showing much creativity and originality. Dole is vastly different from much of what is being currently published and, hopefully, we will be seeing more books from this new talent.
Jeff Burk has been an avid fan of wierd fiction for longer than could
be mentally healthy. He also writes reviews at the Bizarro webzine the Dream People.