Eggplant by /lit/ author Ogden Nesmer discussion and review.


It ain't Jesus or the devil. It's Jesus or you.
Sep 15, 2021
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Spoiler alert: Eggplant isn't actually about Eggplants—Or dick emojis for that matter—what it's about are the hurdles of a struggling artist trying to make sense of her calling in a world where art has become a weapon. The protagonist, Arda, a failed painter with family traumas takes the spotlight as she finds herself intertwined inside a cabal of five-star hotels and a serial killer who murders for the sake of his art.

But Arda isn't a lonely heroine in Eggplant. The narrative bifurcates between a cast of heart-felt characters, their vices and their philosophical musings. The stories of these side-characters sometimes just simply disappear into the background of the story, or have seemingly nothing to do with the journey of Arda. I suspect this way of handling character was intentional by the author, however, I don't think the effect was successful. The thematic climax the novel provides for this way of handling characters left me with a lot to be desired.

Despite its many characters, Eggplant remains a personal journey for Arda, but also a philosophical exploration for the reader. Well, mostly about the philosophy of art. Mostly from Goschen. A professional serial killer, Goschen is behind most of the philosophical explorations of the novel, wherever you find him deep or not might make or break this novel for you. And Goschen, in fact, wants to break you.

Arda's journey can't be separated from that of Goschen, a lost and disenfranchised artist that's forced by way of the narrative to face her biggest rival: An artist in his prime. It just happens that the art of her rival involves mutilating human bodies. In this regard, Eggplant reminds me of Mao II, and Ogden Nesmer manages to create more personal and charming characters than DeLillo, which goes to show Ogden's talent. In other aspects, the novel fails to reach philosophical heights of something like Mao II.

Most of the philosophical points come from characters having soliloquies or Goschen debating with Arda. And personally, Goschen didn't manage to carry the weight needed to elevate the philosophy of the novel into something noteworthy. Goschen comes off as a void, and presumptuous serial killer, with more edginess than my cringe detectors can tolerate. For example:

"I was a slave to death, I was doing her duties, which is why she favors me."


"Death is a grateful master."

Don't take my word for it though. I don't think the context saves these dialogues, but you should still check this novel out and decide for yourself. Despite my hesitation with Goshen, the character has a lot of interesting things to say, but I'm my opinion, they just don't have a lot of depth in them. Eggplant is a novel about characters wrestling with ideas. Ideas which can often suffer from too much exposition, nevertheless Eggplant still presents a philosophy of art that makes you want to keep chewing on, if only to see if there's anything deep in them.

Like a five star hotel, Nesmer's prose is both comfy and exciting—Barring a few grammar mistakes and one or two clunky paragraphs—it submerges you into the tropical world of Epstein-esque hotels and the debauchery behind it all. I didn't find prose incredibly beautiful, perhaps not my piece of cake. But it comes from the hand of a great storyteller.

At one point in the novel, Goshen describes writers as thieves of meaning and significance. In that case Ogden Nesmer is a great thief. He has produced a novel of meaning and significance.


Link to book.
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