OMO by J.H.M. Okthos
5 Stars: The Comradery
Within the first few pages of "OMO" by J.H.M. Okthos, the description of a bike rider riding is detailed in a way to learn more about his life before the collision with other bikers and people kept my interest as if I am learning about a subculture, I was puzzled trying to predict the story of "OMO". "OMO" is the shape of a bicycle but in this book, it's more than that, the story moves like when you start peddling, slow gathering characters like it's gathering speed. Interpersonal relationships and politics pick up the pace of the story; characters are acquainted and invited by a free-spirited rider "Kelly" to ride to Scotland.
Kelly may seem like a free-spirited and straightforward, but as the story unfolds she becomes more complex, during an odd conversational exchange with "feminist" Maike, Kelly drops some knowledge as I pictured in my mind Maike looking at Kelly sideways.
“Are you a feminist?” Kelly said light-heartedly, tilting her head to look at her sideways. “Yes. Very much so.” “You’ve got the bike to thank for that.” Maike laughed. “Really?” she said, unconvinced. “Women wore trousers to ride. It was very controversial.” “That’s quite interesting.” “And when they burned an effigy of a woman, right here in this very city, to protest against them studying at the university, it was an effigy of a woman on a bike,” Kelly continued in a harder tone."
J.H.M. Okthos knows how to shift tones between characters and points out our limits of language when it comes to expressing our thoughts and coming off prickly or overeager to please. The journey to Scotland or the OMO movement picks up others like dirt on a wheel, the comradery, the politics of relationships, engaged my reading beyond thinking about bicycling, I reflected on the good and bad times I had in a group setting and how each person had fitted into the situation.
OMO is about finding where you fit in; it can be a movement or a relationship, many of us struggle to express ourselves we end up being misunderstood creating unnecessary friction in a group. I liked that J.H.M. Okthos brilliantly engages in writing about people with depth and imperfections not just adding characters with no importance, a pleasing change of pace for my summer reading.