Book Review: Oh Look, a Hobbit
Can you believe it, peeps? Rottencoconut, Shalampax’s sporadic and only living novelist, recently published a new book titled, Oh Look, a Hobbit! The novel’s enigmatic first sentence says it all: ‘“Oh look,” Kady cried, “a hobbit!”’
The Tolkien reference is seemingly obvious, but Rottencoconut’s opening sentence remains inscrutable nonetheless. Yet, that’s only the half of it. Well, maybe not half. I’d say one-tenth, if that.
When I claimed that the first sentence of Rottencoconut’s book said it all, I meant that literally. The remaining 247 pages are blank.
Flip through the book and you’ll find page after page of flipping nothingness. Apart from the title, which is printed on both the cover and the top of the first page, and the opening sentence that is almost identical to the title, all of the book’s 248 pages are devoid of so much as a speck of ink.
Needless to say, peeps, there is much that is puzzling about Oh Look, a Hobbit. Upon opening the book, I realized that the only person who could resolve the novel’s mysteries for me was the author.
Rottencoconut usually needs considerable time to recuperate after completing a book, so I let him sleep for three days straight before calling. Surprisingly, Rottencoconut, who is normally quite reclusive, agreed to my request for an interview. He is obviously exceptionally proud of his latest effort and is eager to promote it.
I first questioned him about why he used a Tolkien reference so prominently in both the title and opening sentence. His response was, “Who? What?”
Knowing Rottencoconut’s reading habits, or, rather, lack thereof, I had no trouble believing that he hadn’t the foggiest of ideas as to who Tolkien was. Consequently, I didn’t press him on it. The use of the noun “Hobbit” was clearly coincidental.
(In truth, I can’t blame him. I knew that hobbits were characters in a book or a movie or a television reality show or a something else by someone named Tolkien only because I had seen a reference to that effect in a comic strip that I struggle to read occasionally. That is to say, I struggle every time I attempt to read it, but I only attempt to read it occasionally.)
I next questioned Rottencoconut about, Kady, the name of the protagonist introduced in the book’s sentence. To my ears, Kady was a particularly peculiar name. In fact, I had never heard the name Kady before. Certain that Rottencoconut was insufficiently imaginative to invent a name, I asked him about it.
Rottencoconut explained that to better appeal to the lucrative, self-absorbed U.S. market he needed a quintessentially American name that sounded good up against next the word, cried. Not wanting to be bothered with doing any especially intensive research, he posted a query on the wall of a Facebook group. The query said, “What’s the most American name you can think of that has both a ‘ke’ and a ‘de’ sound in it, preferably, but not necessarily, in that order?”
Rottencoconut adopted the first response, Kady, that was posted to the group’s wall.
Then came the big question I had for Rottencoconut. Why does Oh Look, a Hobbit contain only one sentence?
The response was uncharacteristically profound for Rottencoconut, who typically has the intellectual depth of a puddle in a desert. If just about anyone else had given the same response it would have been considered uncharacteristically banal for him or her, but the answer stretched Rottencoconut’s intellectual powers.
“We all possess more creativity than we give ourselves credit for,” answered Rottencoconut. “Unless, of course, you think you are the least bit creative, in which case you are probably grossly overestimating your creativity. I, for example, think I’m a great writer, but I have trouble coming up with synonyms for the word ‘creative.’ As a result, my so-called creative writing and conversations are overburdened with redundancy whenever the topic of creativity arises.
“I wanted to unleash the creative juices of my readers, limited though they may be. When an author puts words on paper those written words strip readers of the opportunity to be creative on their own. My goal with Oh Look, a Hobbit was to give my readers a starting point—Kady’s unexpected observation of an unknown object, a hobbit—and then leave them free to invent their own story.”
“But why,” I asked, “did you insert more than 247 blank pages? Why not save paper and include only two pages on a single sheet?”
“There were two important reasons for including the extra pages,” answered Rottencoconut. “First, if the book contained only a single page readers might have been tempted to continue and conclude the story with only the words, ‘the end.’ That hardly exercises their creativity muscles, now does it?
“Second, and more important, if the book contained only a single page people would likely be reluctant to fork over $25.99 for the hardcover version and $13.99 for the paperback. I’ve got to eat, don’t I?”
So there you have it, the riddles of Oh Look, a Hobbit have been explained. I am pleased that I could help to make the book more intellectually accessible to the average reader.
Rottencoconut’s Oh Look, a Hobbit is available for $25.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in paperback—or whatever you are willing to pay, which is undoubtedly much less—at Rottencoconut’s apartment. Call ahead to make sure he’ll be home when you arrive.
UPDATE: Rottencoconut asked me to withdraw this post because he realized that after I revealed the entire plot people might no longer feel the need to buy a copy of the book. As if they would ever feel that need.
Of course, my journalistic integrity prevented me from removing valuable information from the public’s eye, particularly now that it is already in the public domain. What’s more, I get paid by the word. My pay would have been docked if I removed this post.
Fortunately, I also get paid for the words that appear in updates to my posts. I’ll keep you up-to-date if I get any more information about Rottencoconut’s book or its sales.