Animal Sanctuary

Sarah Falkner. Starcherone Books (, $20 trade paper (200p) ISBN 9781936873098
In its first half, Falkner's unconventional, multi-layered, and well-crafted debut, winner of Starcherone's Prize for Innovative Fiction, tells the story of Kitty Dawson, an aging actress in the 1970s who, after working with animals in many films, creates an animal sanctuary for endangered lions and tigers. The second half, set in the present, concerns Kitty's son Rory Dawson, and his career as a conceptual artist. Readers learn about the characters though chapters such as "Some Mentions of Kitty Dawson in National and Local Press" or "Some Publications in Which Rory Dawson is Mentioned." Secondary characters emerge in the loose narrative, including Catherine, Kitty's on-set body double. In a chapter titled "Nature Films," readers meet Albert Wickwood, the director who gave Kitty her big break, via a press interview that's interrupted by italicized text of Kitty speaking with her therapist. In a later chapter, one of Rory's grant applications is juxtaposed with italicized commentary from an unnamed assistant in his workshop. The assistant's criticism of him and the art world in general culminates in her claim that "he cannot see that he is in fact one of many bricks in the wall of the temple of art; he helps build, maintain, and support these oppressive structures." (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 200 pages - 978-1-4804-2592-7
Ebook - 225 pages - 978-0-9837405-0-6
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