CBR13Bingo – Fauna
Both of these fit the category, so I will link them together.
Barn 8 – 3/5 Stars
We get a lot of exposition upfront with this book. Our protagonist runs away from her New York life when she’s 15 to meet her estranged, and only recently discovered father in Iowa. Turns out, he’s nothing special. She’s been living with her mom in New York, a woman who left Iowa at 19 while pregnant and had to make it on her own. And like with a lot of child-parent relationships, this focused attention became too much to bear. Right on the cusp of returning to New York, Janey finds out that her mother has died in a car wreck. This creates a split in Janey’s mind of the life she would have led if she had stayed, having convinced herself that her presence would have prevented her mother’s death, and this new reality stuck in Iowa. But this is not a childhood book, and soon we’re quickly guided through the rest of Janey’s teens and early 20s, as she becomes a listless young adult. Her father, for what use he is to her (he’s fine by the way. Having a useless dad is better than having a bad one), contacts one of her mother’s old friends, who works for a huge poultry farm, and gets Janey a job. Janey soon realizes that her new boss is disenchanted with eggs and is slowly if a little subconsciously planning a way to disrupt or save a bunch of chickens. They eventually get activists involved the novel goes from there.
This is a book about reckoning with potential and actual living, in the way a lot of novels are. Sidenote: I was wrong, but I thought this was going to be a kind of Animal Farm or dystopian thing. That cover, which is just fantastic gave me that vibe, but I was not correct.
Pig Tales – 3/5 Stars
I think it’s possible I didn’t like this book at all. But that said, it’s wildly inventive and incredibly richly layered, but not a book I really enjoyed reading very much. Maybe the descriptions on the book jacket that call it a mix of George Orwell and Kafka are both a little too on the nose, and not on the nose at all. Kurtz asks Marlowe: “My methods have become unsound?” And Marlowe says “No method at all.” And well, there’s plenty of method and madness here, but I don’t quite see any Orwell or any Kafka at all.
Anyway, our narrator works for a store and slowly turns into a pig. And this new pigness about her only goes to accentuate the ways in which she’s treated. It’s an atmospheric novel at times and a higly impressionistic novel at times. It’s also the kind of writing that just doesn’t work on me. I am reminded of a contemporary novel, Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin or even her other novel Fever Dream, where I can recognize things it’s doing, but not really have them work for me as a reader.