Owl or Nothin' by Tucker Cowson
I normally don't write bad reviews no matter how much I dislike a book, but this feels more like a public service announcement.
A few weeks ago Long Shot Books received a novel submission (even though we aren't taking any submissions right now) titled, Owl or Nothin' by Tucker Cowson. I don't really write reviews on manuscripts, but Todd kind of forced my hand.
I was ready to let the author down gently and by letting him know that LSB isn't accepting manuscript submissions right now, but Todd begged me to read it. Said I'd love it. Promised it was the Next Great American Novel.
So I read it, and here's what I think:
If this is the standard of Art now, Mona Lisa would be crying.
The plot holes of Owl or Nothin' are big enough to walk through with “twists” that are more of a mental gymnastics exercise. Cowson treats shock value like a literary device used un-ironically.
Its pseudo-intellectual prose attempts to come across as self-aware. At the climax, the main character, Todd, proclaims, “I'm brilliant enough to recognize my own genius!” (Also, naming the main character after a publisher you're submitting to reads more like a desperate plea than an aesthetic choice.)
With as many classic book and movie references Cowson throws into the narrative and as much as he talks about Michelangelo, I thought this would be more like Casablanca and less like The Room.
In his query letter, the author classifies this book as a slice of life piece, but I'd call it more of a fantasy—a fantasy that this thing would ever have a shot at LSB.
xoxo - Maureen