Talking Animals

Joni Murphy. FSG Originals, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-53874-3
In this bighearted if flawed eco-fiction satire, pun-loving alpaca Alfonzo Velloso Faca takes on corruption and climate change. The novel’s sweeping opening describes an alternate-reality New York City populated by a menagerie of talking animals, a hierarchical city arranged by “unwritten laws of class, order, family, genus, and species.” Alfonzo, the son of immigrant Bolivian camelids, toils in the city’s Department of Records. He is also nearing completion of a dissertation in mammalian studies “that would tease out the myth of empire from the unwashed raw wool of reality.” Rot is all around him, from the city’s venal equine mayor (the scion of an elite family), to the polluted, rising oceans and the troubling demonization of sea creatures (“They hate our legs and our free society,” claims a porcine city hall official). Alfonzo’s best friend, a llama named Mitchell, introduces him to the nonviolent Sea Equality Revolutionary Front (SERF) and embroils him in an effort to expose the mayor’s graft and bring down his antisea administration. The intrigue takes its time heating up and never fully comes to a boil, and speechifying abounds in the dialogue. Murphy has great fun animalizing the streets of N.Y.C. and writes beautiful paeans to the sea, but the gags, heady sociological riffs, and lyricism can’t quite sustain the novel. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/26/2020
Release date: 08/04/2020
Genre: Fiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-7997-5517-3
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