Cipri, Nino. “Finna”, TOR.COM, 2020.
The Horrors of the Multiverse
Nino Cipri’s “Finna” brings together all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with what is terrible about low-wage work. We see this as “Finna” looks at “queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.”
An elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension and this causes two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. The two workers just broke up a week ago.
To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
The novel has the length of a novella yet it is very powerful. Because it is so short, I am sure that each word was carefully chosen. We are pulled into the story on the first page and then held captive by the plot and the wonderful prose. Writer Cipro gives us a plot filled with twists work that are both fun and filled with fear as well as a look at old fashioned anti-capitalism.
Ava and Jules are recent exes, who continue to work together at the same Swedish big-box store. At their dead-end jobs, they spend the day trying to avoid each other as awkward as that is. Each of them is stuck in the things they said and did wrong. Then an old lady goes missing at the store and as the most junior employees, Ava and Jules are assigned to go look for her. As they do, they find a corporate wormhole that brings them across universes.
“Finna” looks at corporate culture and how much we buy into capitalism. We all know who have taken dead-end jobs and ended up stuck in them. They are unable to see a way out. Quitting is not a viable financial option so they stay at the job, not having the energy to apply for anything new.
Ava and Jules float through a few worlds as they search to find the missing woman. There’s something of the furniture store in each world, but how we see that is different for each young worker. We get glimpses of the familiar but just enough to make everything very strange.
The relationship between Ava and Jules is raw and real, like knowing that you still love someone but know that the two of you would make a totally terrible couple and you have to find a way to live without the person in your life. Since they are co-workers, there are complications since it’s one thing to break up and then never see each other again, but another when you potentially have to see each other every day. Even as they travel through worlds, they try to understand each other out and if they can be just friends. For all the traveling and alternate humanities presented, “Finna” is a very human and a very real story. While it is a quick read, it takes time to reflect upon it.
It mixes a lot of things together but quite basically, it is a story about what we can and can’t escape from capitalism and accountability, labor and love.