9780802116413 / 0802116418

Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Corn Belt


Publisher:Grove Pr



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About the book:

Tristan Egolf's first novel is an unsparing view of life in a town where inbred Appalachia and Middle America overlap and intermingle. John Kaltenbrunner, an only child, is born on the heels of his father's death. At an unusually early age, the boy shows a flair for farming and a desire to be left alone, two things that make people pick on him in increasingly vicious ways. John's life plan is to drop out of school when he hits 16 and mind his own business. But he loses everything, alienates everyone, and through a series of increasingly outrageous mishaps winds up serving three years work-release felony time on a river barge. When he comes home to Baker, no one recognizes him:

John had expected, maybe even hoped for, a little something more to herald his arrival--some burning crosses or lynch mobs on the lawn, a coven of Methodists to picket his re-entry, a banner-wielding committee from the school board, anything at all. But to his disbelief, he found the streets quiet and empty.
The streets don't stay that way for long as the tale truly turns on the garbage strike organized by John and his gang of fellow misfits. As a result, Baker comes apart at the seams and all the citizenry reveal their true natures. In his singular debut, Tristan Egolf demonstrates an unschooled flair for storytelling, which earned him accolades--and even a comparison to CÚline--when the novel was published in France. True, his characters are cutouts with few surprises, including dialogue (there isn't any). But there is plenty of room in these pages to admire a wild and imaginative look at a slice of life cut from the underbelly of Middle America. --Schuyler Engle

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