BooksReview

O'Brien's "Animal Magnetism" Pulls it Off

Quinn Banford ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Meaghan O’Brien’s Animal Magnetism is an afternoon lunch date: a couple-hour encounter, delighting its reader with solid bouts of comedy. After “the meal” one’s not left with a sad departure, but hope for another one. Readers will put the book down with a bundle of good feelings circling your mind.

This slightly alternate universe depicts fleeting attraction as if it were permanent. That brief eye contact is mutual and actually creates a magnetic pull between the two “eye contacters.” Beth and Seth are minding their own business, see one another, their eyes lock, and soon after, their hips lock. Being glued to another person, frontal pelvic area to frontal pelvic area, rarely ever happens. Animal Magnetism introduces a new concept, and considers what unexpected romance must be like.

It sounds like this story is balancing on a thin line between sex and comedy. The brilliance in it is that the characters are put in such a position where thoughts of sex would probably make the situation more devastating. The suppression of these emotions heightens the tension and leads its two characters into a golden land where comedy is free to roam.

The scenarios that these characters encounter are so unlikely in real life that it allows the story to take over the reader’s sense of humor. Consider these few things: what training do you have when it comes to walking? You’re likely aware that people tend to do that pretty well on a regular basis, right? Now imagine having another living being attached to your hips. Walking. Imagine the difficulty in doing that. If you can, then this might be “just another day”. But for those few others, these moments are so ridiculously descript that it brings the reader from point A to point B in a fit of hilarity.

Animal Magnetism rolls along with the pacing of a romantic comedy, avoiding the dramas of current events. Political investigations, war reporting, nor Canadian affairs should expected within these pages. It’s a comedy with the intention to pull readers away from whatever is actually going on in the real world.

If you’re an avid reader of Tolstoy, Dickens, or one of the Brontë sisters, you may have an issue with the lack of serious characterization. But if you’re a heavy lit reader, you may not enjoy comedy either. But the characters in this piece are intelligent. They have to deal with conflicts and they use their knowledge to solve their problems. That’s what makes this novella well written. The conflict is what carries the story through its ups and downs. Once the first conflict is settled, the next conflict has already been introduced. “Now what?” tends to be the question at the turn of each page. Through these characters, the plot continues to move forward, which is exactly what the plot needs.

Do yourself a favor and pick up an enjoyable read this spring. Do it for the talents of an Emerson writer. Do it for a good cause. The book sales of Meaghan O’Brien’s novella are all going to a charity of her choice (https://www.cradlestocrayons.org/boston). Help creativity for a cause!

Book Launch Date/Info:

Undergraduate Students for Publishing

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

7 pm in the Bill Bordy Theater

216 Tremont Street, Boston

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