Taillefer tells the story of man whose lucky coin starts to talk in this debut novel.
After gambling in a casino, Jason is left with little more than his lucky penny. Sulking at a bus stop on the way home, he throws the coin away only to watch as a rogue bolt of lightning strikes it in midair: “The whole city had feebly brightened a short fraction of time....Once on the ground, from a brazed cherry red to dark rusty oxidized, the coin cooled quickly as the wet pavement underneath helped cooling.” Jason retrieves the penny and soon realizes that it’s been altered and can now speak. Somehow, the spirit of a man named Norman is inside the coin and Jason can hear everything that he says. After a requisite get-to-know-each-other period, Jason and Norman go back to the casino. They plan for Norman to enter the slot machines and hack them in a way that guarantees Jason a big win. However, their winnings draw unwanted attention—and Jason realizes that his talking penny may be more trouble than he bargained for. The novel uses a peculiar idiolect that frequently abandons the rules of standard English: “Jason alleviated fast from his sickness of hurls. His faculties climbed high enough as he felt like moving, vertigo faded consciously.” At times, the prose is lyrical and evocative, and the author may have intended it to be a Joycean experiment in syntax and grammar. However, the experience is more often akin to reading something produced by poor translation software. The book’s premise, though fantastical, is not one that lends itself to such experimental language, which renders the already extraordinary situation far more confusing than it needs to be. The text is so difficult to navigate that many readers may not make it all the way to the end.
A quirky but barely comprehensible novel.