Kirkus Reviews QR Code
8:59 by Ubong E. Eton


When the Only Certainty is a Mirage

by Ubong E. Eton

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 2014
Publisher: Westbow Press

A young man tries to make his dreams come true during a strange stay in California.

An onslaught of disconnected imagery emerges in this debut novel’s first few pages: a hooded figure by a bus cries, “How did I get here?” An old man asks the narrator to write his biography; the mysterious name “Monroe Doe” makes a first appearance; the narrator suddenly receives congratulations for graduating from primary school. After this somewhat surreal beginning, Eton develops a story about a young man graduating at the top of his class and leaving his home—Nigeria—to pursue his goal of breaking into the film industry. Soon he arrives in Los Angeles, where old friends help get him acclimated to the city. He seeks out an attorney who had once visited his home, and during this quest meets a character named Dr. Army. The narrator also hears the name Monroe Doe from an unknown voice. This enigmatic name quickly becomes connected with a woman he films at a wedding and with whom he falls madly in love. The narrator begins to question his path as his obsession for the woman leads to a charge of stalking; a tragic death also leaves him reeling. He finds solace in poetry before another smattering of disconnected images concludes the story, in particular, a man repeating over and over, “This is a dead end; you’re still in the maze.” While the chaos Eton presents can feel like an avant-garde interpretation of Los Angeles, the work remains too disjointed to support any solid interpretations. Sentences such as “The bishop...had chronicled a testimony of riding on flat tires for miles, I mean regular tires” occur so often that the simplest plot elements become lost. Readers never learn whose story this is, how the narrator overcame having no access to money on his arrival, or even how a major character died—leaving them to feel that they are the ones trapped in a confusing and frustrating maze.

A tale of a filmmaker trying to make it in Los Angeles, obscured by an incoherent structure and style.