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

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  837 ratings  ·  90 reviews
A literary sensation published to outstanding accolades in America and around the world, Lord of the Barnyard was one of the most auspicious fiction debuts of recent years. Now available in paperback, Tristan Egolf's manic, inventive, and painfully funny debut novel is the story of a town's dirty laundry -- and a garbagemen's strike that lets it all hang out. Lord of the B ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 13th 2000 by Grove Press (first published 1998)
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There's a good deal of history here. Back when I wore plaid and carried Nietzsche books everywhere there was a scene here. It was in the Highlands in Louisville. There were hordes of pseuds, but there was a core. There was a group of serious people involved with art, music, literature and activism. Most moved away - the Northwest, NYC, abroad etc. A few died. Recently a number have passed, mostly from cancer. Mostly my age. There was a coffeehouse that hosted readings and concerts. There was goi ...more
I think this is one of the finest stories written by a young American in the past ten years. I've had it around for a while, maybe even read it back in Colorado. An absurd story. But new, and I dare anyone to try and forget this one. The local outcast brings the town down by organizing the garbage men to quit working. The town starts to disappear under trash. A mean story kind of, but so funny. It is a shame this guy is gone. He was really good. Highly recommended.
If you're like me, reading the very first acrobatic sentence of this book will let you know that you're in for a serious treat.

Though Barnyard has some flaws--things seem to slow down when the action is ostensibly rising to an impossible apex--the many moments of perfection in language and style certainly make up for any weaknesses. Divided into three major sections, part one of this book is absolutely packed with plot, myth, language and bravado. It could conceivably stand on its own as an exc
Robert Beveridge
Tristan Egolf, Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Corn Belt (Grove, 1998)

Few books published in the last decade have garnered as much attention and as many favorable reviews as tristan Egolf's epic debut novel. It has achieved endless comparisons to John Kennedy Toole and William Faulkner, made ten-best lists the world over, and been lauded as the book most overlooked by all the major literary awards. Needless to say, after all that, it's roughly the litera
Sarah Key
I loved this book. Amazing story, and Egolf had such style as a writer.

This is not humor. There is an occasional witty or sarcastic sentence from time to time that will leave the reader with a cocky grin on their face, but for the most part, this was a very sad book. Or at least, it was to me. A man loses the woman loves, are you laughing? A man is brutally hurt and losing his very grasp on reality, is it humorous to you now? A story about someone as misunderstood as John Kaltenbauer is not a fu
I've owned this book since June of 2006 and have never seen fit to crack the spine.

It was given to me as a birthday gift by my best friend Stephen. He was a playwright as well, and a big fan of this writer. Stephen seemed to think that I would enjoy him, too. I put the book on a shelf with every intention of getting to it. But then. . .the October after I received this book. . .Stephen died in a horrific car accident. This novel, among others, went untouched. Perhaps I was too afraid of the nost
So I wrote the review below in 2007 or something, after reading the book in 1999 and again in, I don't know, 2003 or something. Then I picked up a used copy for a dollar last week (2010) and read it again. I don't like it nearly as much as I used to. The story and the writing style are both deeply problematic. Several plot points are just completely implausible--for instance, crowds of people in a hospital waiting room viciously attack our hero for no particular reason; also, all the faculty o ...more
Stefan Martiyan
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This shit was fantastic. The literary touchstones are myriad, with John Kennedy Toole being a particularly obvious one. But in its humor, there is something far, far darker and filthier. Unlike the good-natured farce of A Confederacy of Dunces, Egolf opts to show the sheer disgusting, almost Harmony Korine scuzz of postindustrial Middle American existence. Almost like a white trash Dostoyevsky. John Kaltenbrunner isn't a comic hero-- he's much too charmless and laconic for that (a redneck Raskol ...more
Phong Pham
Think you've had a bad day, week, or even life? Then you haven't met John Kaltenbrunner. Sure he could walk around grousing "I hate my life" like the rest of us or he could put his nose to the proverbial grindstone with singular determination to do what he knows to be right and to exact perhaps the most outrageous vengeance you'll ever read about. The writing style takes some getting used to (there's no direct dialogue in the entire book) but don't let that deter you. Shame Tristan Egolf is no l ...more
It's not as awesome as those who totally gush over it say it is, but it's really, really something. The prose is at times mind-blowingly awesome, the story is epic and engaging. Where it falls short of 5-star status is the hyperbole- Egolf goes well over the top way too often, creating characters and situations that are too extreme to be plausible. Definitely makes me want to read more Egolf though.
Jennifer  Sciolino-Moore
I don't really know where to begin with this review. Having read Kornwolf first, I was excited to see what Egolf had presented as a first work.

I wasn't disappointed. John Kaltenbrunner is a tragic hero of the first order. His entire life is a day-after-day account of shit relentlessly hitting the fan. In any other novel, a reader would be apt to shake his head in disbelief and say "Nope, this is just too much, it's gone too far...." But not so LOTB. Egolf crafts his hero in such a way that it l
Il s'agit de rétablir la vérité sur l'homme qui devint une légende dans la ville fictive de Baker - pas une légende glorieuse, non, mais plutôt celle d'un criminel, d'un fou, d'un diable apparu de nulle part pour semer le malheur et le chaos au sein d'une bourgade jusque là (presque) sans histoires. Il s'agit d'expliquer comment, en l'espace de si peu de temps, tout a pu tourner à la catastrophe, et quels hideux secrets ont rendu John Kaltenbrunner prêt à tout pour obtenir sa revanche.

Ce roman f
Jul 29, 2007 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: guys
Exhausting, bloated tall tale/first novel with enough action to keep me reading to the end but not enough editing for me to enjoy it.
Brendan Babish
Not a single piece of dialogue in the entire novel. I guess that's somewhat to be commended, but it's really to the detriment of the story.
Jun 14, 2007 Däv rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
RIP Tristan Egolf

Thanks for the stories
One of my favorite books of all time. Inventive, literary; a truly mythic read. Had Mr. Egolf not committed suicide only a few years after Barnyard was written I have no doubt he would be listed with David Foster Wallace (who sadly also committed suicide) as one the of brightest and most accomplished writers of his generation. To my mind Barnyard is one of the great American novels of the past 20 years. It should be on every readers reading list. One of few novels I have re-read several times ju ...more
Many picaresque novels share a certain amount of repetition, predictability, and lengthiness, and so does this one. The basic idea is: Present your protagonist as an anti-social outcast who becomes the leader of a social movement. Besides the picaresque tradition this book is modelled on some aspects of the New Testament: When the garbage workers are instigated to go on a strike, the town sinks in garbage, which in turn leads to a rise in violence and social stress. Those parts of the book are l ...more
Élégie dantesque ou L'Inferno bouseux!

"D'où ce récit: une tentative de mêler archives publiques, folklore local et épopées de basse-cour en une récapitulation chronologique, basée sur des faits et d'une lecture agréable, compilée par le contingent des nègres verts/torche-collines de Pullman Valley. D'autres pistes pourraient fort bien apparaître au cours des années à venir. Les ressources existent certainement. Chacun à Baker a son histoire à raconter."

Le seigneur des porcheries trace les lignes
I bought this book sometime at the turn of the millenium, read most of it over several years, and then shelved it when I was within 40 pages of the end. At the time, I was motivated by a silent act of defiance against the nature of consumable art: being that we (as participants) are drawn in, become emotionally involved with the characters, and are then subsequently ejected from that world at the end. During this time of my life I was burning through Anime series, comic book series, and books li ...more
Penny Lane
This book was recommended by a young man in my book club. We all get to pick a book eventually and when his turn came up, my initial thought was, "I can't believe he blew it on this awful book." At first I kept reading it for only two reasons; first, I was hoping that it would get better. Second, I felt a sort of moral obligation; after all, he had read Sue Monk Kidds The Secret Life of Bees for me. The difference is that any bee, even a dead one, is more interesting than the Lord of the Barnyar ...more
Shannon Dishon
My friend had told me to read this, claiming that it was one of the best. By page 80, I was still bored out of my mind. I waited until I had about 100 pages left to asked my friend if it got any better. He said "if you don't like it now, you won't like the rest of it." I strained myself and finished the book. I attest that it is the most boring book ever. All the main character does is construct in his mothers backyard and rebuild when it gets destroyed. Then he does whatever he does at the end ...more
It's hard to say what to make of this book. It definitely had its moments.

It's the story of the life of a strange and highly eccentric character who sets in motion a long series of improbable events in the course of his life. In the end he winds up working at a landfill, with others that have come to the end of a long line, with little hope of changing much for the better. The last half or so of the book is the story of a garbage strike. If you are not heavily invested in the fate of the charac
Oct 29, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Holy Cow I loved this book. I loved the main character John. In any other book a character like John would have evoked pity but John Kaltenbauer did not. Not because he doesn't deserve pity but because you know he doesn't want your pity and it would be an insult to him. Through all the insane shit life hands him deep down you know he can handle it. John's the guy you want on your side because he never quits. He's the rattlesnake head that bites you even after it's dead. He lives life on his own ...more
I had little idea of what to expect from Lord of the Barnyard, which is probably the exact right way to approach the book. I knew literary giants had lauded it, but being 10 years behind its release, I didn't really know why.

And in some ways, I still don't.

Barnyard is warped and twisted, overwritten and undercast. But it's still one hell of a read.

Be warned -- the prologue is sleep inducing. Skim or skip if you must, but at least make it through to the first section. John Kaltenbrunner may be th
Unbelievably good, and makes me sad that my high school self wasn't more aware of the literature scene so I could have read this back then.

Comparisons to A Confederacy of Dunces seems to be unavoidable, but I don't think that holds too much water. John Kaltenbrunner is, in some ways, a despicable character, dirty and profane and unlikeable, but there is also a good deal about him to admire. The biggest difference, however, is that Ignatius' own hubris drives his story, while John was merely bor
The title doesn't tell you much. This is a story about a man who grew up poor, raised by his widowed mother. All on his own, he started raising pigeons. From there, he moved on to chickens, and he soon had a thriving little business.

For some reason--I don't remember if they lost the farm or he didn't sell enough chickens or what the reason was--he got a "regular job" working at the dump and working on a garbage truck. The boss there mistreated the workers and didn't pay them well, so the hero of
I much preferred "Lord of the Barnyard," Egolf's first novel, to any of his other works, and not just because it consisted almost entirely of first-person-plural narrative (it appears at first to be third-person, but eventually the true voice reveals itself) with almost no dialogue. I mean, it was an impressive formal achievement, but - as much as it pains me to admit this, since the first-person-plural voice generally inspires a visceral loathing in me - it also held up pretty well as a story, ...more
Gregg Sapp
Let us pause to consider what literary marvels Tristan Egolf might have created had his life not taken such a tragic arc. In this book, he manages to simultaneously satirize and celebrate rural Midwest life, especially the hardscrabble workers who bust their asses every day, suck it up, then go back for more abuse the next. John Kaltenbrunner is one of the most original characters in modern American literature: a flawed hero who is destined not only to fail at everything that matters to him, but ...more
Lord of the Barnyard begins witht he death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased pig chase at a funeral in the modern day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, a lone tornado a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional p ...more
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Egolf was born in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. His father, Brad Evans, was a National Review journalist and his mother, Paula, a painter. His younger sister is American actress Gretchen Egolf. His parents divorced in Egolf's childhood and he took the surname of his stepfather, Gary Egolf. In his youth, the family moved from Washington to Kentucky. It was life in Philadelphia, however, that i ...more
More about Tristan Egolf...
Kornwolf Skirt and the Fiddle Skirt And The Fiddle Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Corn Belt, Signed 1st Edition

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