Kim's Reviews > Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
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's review
Oct 05, 11

bookshelves: the-kids-are-all-right, it-was-density, holy-shit
Read in October, 2011


ROAD TRIP! Who doesn’t love a good road trip? (rhetorical) Who doesn’t love to read about a road trip? Huh? C’mon… On the Road, Travels with Charley, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Anything?

Well, I do enjoy reading about them. More so when they involve hypochondriac dwarves, punk rock angels, fire giants, stellar trumpeters, time traveling vegan gurus, frenzied smoothie loving cultists who bowl, slutty cheerleaders, hermatic Inuit jam bands, wizards of reckoning, Viking yard gnomes and snow globe salesmen. Oh and a protagonist with Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (that’s mad-cow disease for us non neurosurgeons)

Cameron Smith’s best memory is almost dying at Disney World when he was five. At sixteen he’s a typical self centered, under motivated teenage boy skimming cliff notes of Don Quixote and seeing holes open in the sky and "leaves of fire grow and change, like something’s inside waiting to be born. The one closest to me evolves as quickly as one of those time lapse photography experiments in science: the small, hunched over form unfolds, spreads out, takes on mass, intention. It stands, huge, burning man with eyes black as the hole opening above us. …there’s three, four, now five of them; they burn so brightly, flames licking off their bodies like blue-orange sweat. They sweep their arms out this way and that, and where they pass, the land curls up in blackness. This makes them laugh, which is a horrible sound—like the screams of people burning to death.”

Dude.

But, it’s all good. We soon learn that it’s not really an invasion… not that sort anyway… just these infectious prion proteins that are attacking Cameron’s brain. Boom. Instant death sentence.

What’s a boy to do? How about stage a break out with his classmate and hospital roomie Gonzo, the aforementioned hypochondriac dwarf. Why? Because a pink haired, combat boot-wearing angel named Dulcie told him so. He is given a mission. He has to save the world from the fire giants and find the scientist who can save him. Easy peasy.

Cameron and Gonzo meet many eccentric folk in their travels. They visit Mardi Gras and jam with a jazz legend, they hang out at CESSNAB where they learn to increase their happiness by bowling perfect games and drinking smoothies.. They free a Norse God who has been cursed into the form of a yard gnome and taken by frats to pose with at national landmarks. They discover that time travel is possible, but involves the music of an Inuit jam band that went MIC (missing in concert) twenty years ago. They visit spring break-Florida style- where Cam loses his virginity to his high school crush. and Gonzo finds a boyfriend .

I really haven’t done this journey justice. It’s crazed and incredible. Life affirming and heartbreaking. Cameron has purpose, he falls in love, he saves the world and he confronts his own mortality. Who could ask for more of this life?

“Mom and Dad each take one of my hands. Jenna sits beside me. Everything slows. The room gets darker, and I feel like I’m being pulled toward something I can’t see. Things streak past me. Stars. Gases. Satellites. Whole planets wobble and careen away. Universes, too. It makes me feel vast and impossibly small at the same time. Connected.”

"[W]e now enjoy...not only the delight of his own absolutely veracious tale but also all those other stories and narrative digressions which, to some extent, are no less delightful and skillfully told, and every bit as true, as his own history." Cervantes ain’t no fool. I won’t soon be forgetting Cameron or his quest.



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Quotes Kim Liked

Libba Bray
“These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It's probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation.”
Libba Bray, Going Bovine

Libba Bray
“You're special.
I'm special.
The whole world's special, so don't you forget it.

The universe wants us
All to be happy,
Full of smiles and all that stuff,
All that stuff
That's happy and smiley.
So get happy, happy, happy right now!
Get happy, happy, happy right now!
Get happy, happy, happy right now!”
Libba Bray, Going Bovine

Libba Bray
“I feel like I swallowed a Magritte. Like on the inside, I'm made of clouds and floating eyes, green apples, and slowly rising men in bowler hats.”
Libba Bray, Going Bovine


Reading Progress

10/01/2011
100.0%

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