Filthy Animals is a novel composed of a group of short stories and characters that all link together in some form or another. The first story deals with an emotional young man named Lionel as he begins embarking on strange and perilous encounters with a man in an open relationship. From there, we also meet a babysitter who has exploded her life, a group of teenagers that engage in a night of emotional and physical violence against one another, dancers at an academy, and a young woman facing down her family as terminal cancer rages through her.
The main throughline of this novel centers on Lionel (and his story is returned to a number of times), while the surrounding tales act more or less to flesh out the greater world. It is as if to say, here is what one person is dealing with, but if you look past them you will see so many other lives being lived. And all of them feel connected by an invisible thread of longing and searching for something (or someone) to connect to.
Beyond this thematic connection, however, I was a little confused as to how some of the different characters and vignettes were related to the others (though apparently they did). While some of these short tales were very powerful and poignant, I will be honest I didn’t quite get the point of all of them. But that’s kind of how I feel with most anthologies or novels consisting of shorter stories.
However, despite being quite enthralled in where the story of Lionel was going, I don’t quite understand why the novel ended where it did. At the time, it felt a little unfinished, despite my knowing that a mere moment can be a total and complete story within itself. Though, as I have sat with this novel for a few days and have had a chance to ruminate over it, I think I appreciate it more now. And yet, even though I found myself liking the novel more a day or two after finishing it, I can already feel many of the details filtering from my head.
Therefore, I would say that Filthy Animals was a brief and quite beautiful glimpse at human longing, but unfortunately one that is already feeling fleeting to me. It was nice while it lasted, but in my head I’m afraid it won’t be lasting long.