The Egg Code

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Egg Code has a huge cast of characters who appear in vignettes throughout the sixty- eight sections of the book. Among the characters are a motivational speaker who is losing all motivation, a stage mother who is determined to make a star of her totally untalented son, an aspiring novelist who is forced to earn his living by writing sickening advertising copy, a dancer who believes she can fly, and many other Big Dipper Township residents or visitors leading lives of quiet or noisy desperation.

Egg Code is a geological term referring to data used to record the size, density, and development of sea ice. In Mike Heppner’s novel it additionally refers to a Web site being used by a hacker to disrupt the Internet by posting all kinds of disinformation. The words “THE EGG CODE” keep flashing in big capital letters throughout the pages. The author’s aim seems to be more to puzzle than to inform the reader, not unlike the nihilistic computer hacker of The scrambling of the novel’s story lines is presumably one effect of the rogue computer Gloria 21169.

The Egg Code is a first novel by Heppner, age thirty, who received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. It is a highly ambitious, experimental work which displays the author’s undoubted literary talent along with his youth and inexperience. While some readers will enjoy the dizzying high-tech thrill ride, others may feel frustrated, perplexed or irritated by this ultra-modern, “MFA maximalistic” novel’s nonlinear narrative and chronological chaos.