The world ends in Austin, Texas, and a multitude of less cool venues, in Egerton’s seriocomic, eschatological whimsy.
The thing is, nobody has time for the apocalypse. Milton Post and his lover, Rica, nervously expecting an unplanned child, just want to spend some quiet time together. Hayden Brock, a TV actor Rica fell in love with when she was 13, is on the run from video footage that shows his post-Emmy party ending with a tender moment between him and a goat. Roy Clamp, a member of Pearl-Swine, the band that kicked Milton out, is up for anything but isn’t exactly a paragon of initiative. Click, a hermit crab, reacts even more passively to outside forces. So as the signs and tokens begin to multiply—Dr. Kip Warner hawks the Lifepods that are supposed to keep the elect safe through the holocaust, sewer inspector Kiefer Bran finds an underground river of blood, heretofore inoffensive nutria overrun Austin and attack its retail establishments—you’d think the cast would be caught flat-footed. But they aren’t: They keep moving in response to forces they can’t understand. As Egerton (The Book of Harold, 2010, etc.) piles on the analogies among the bemused Milton, the suddenly adrift Hayden and Click the crab, a surprisingly coherent spirituality emerges from the picaresque farce. If the end of the world doesn’t quite live up to its advance publicity, well, that’s happened often enough before.
A brainy, often riotous, ultimately moving Cat’s Cradle for our time peopled with reluctant seekers of spiritual nourishment who might have stepped from the pages of Flannery O’Connor.