karen's Reviews > Swallowing a Donkey's Eye

Swallowing a Donkey's Eye by Paul Tremblay
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's review
Sep 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: czp, welcome-author
Read from September 04 to 06, 2012

oh, what, is that me and paul tremblay?? it most certainly is!

Trudi: haha! saw that title and my first thought was "oh noes, she has officially reached rock bottom with the monster porn!" You have corrupted me. I have been corrupted.

i loved this post so much, i had to use it to start my review. i hope that is okay.

i love that you people thought this was erotica. and i think paul will love it, too.

it is not erotic, though, despite a golden-shower scene. it is hard to say what it is. this book is two stories stuck together, in a chimera that somehow works.

because at first, i wasn't sure what i was going to think of it. we find ourselves in a future-dystopia, where our hero is living out a sort of contracted indentured servitude on "farm," a tourist-trap theme park where guides wear plush animal costumes and lead tour groups through faux-bucolic settings to gawp at people who have given up their freedom in exchange for a little money to send home, while they toil to produce food for "city", and live animals have had their vocal cords removed, so that animal sounds must be pumped in to delight its visitors. "city" rests on top of a pier, under which all the homeless have been relocated and left for dead, and is a horrorshow of consumerism gone mad, whose inhabitants are aggressively accosted by people wearing television screens showing commercials, and live in fear of being sent under the pier.

this kind of satire of bureaucracy and commercialism usually bores my teats off. i get it, i get the dehumanization and the moral deadening, i get the complacency and the lassitude of people under the strongarm of capitalist greed and genetic meddling, but it rarely transcends its own delight in its own perceived allegorical cleverness to become anything more than just a sad empty shell of a story.

ah, but this one goes a step further. and it shuttles the reader back-and-forth between this lunatic setting and the memories of our hero's life before-farm, and the circumstances that led to his choosing farm in the first place. these parts of the novel are told in very clear-eyed prose, which contrasts nicely with the carnivalesque and absurd farm-and-city chapters.

by the end, when we find ourselves under the pier, the carnival all but drops away, and we are confronted with humanity at its most desperate, and there is such amazingly wonderful pathos, and i couldn't help but feel sympathy for a character who until that point had been under a pretty harsh spotlight.

paul promised:

I'll only say it starts off wacky, crazy, and hopefully funny, and gets darker/more serious as you go, until you're a weeping puddle by the end. Or something that like. ;)

and while i have never been a weeping puddle in my life (view spoiler), i will say that it does do a good job of providing an emotional counterpoint to what would otherwise have been just a cerebral endeavor.

and while i still hold In the Mean Time closer to my blackened heart, this book reaffirms my love for paul tremblay and for czp, the only publisher i have ever maintained a crush on.
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Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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message 1: by Trudi (new)

Trudi haha! saw that title and my first thought was "oh noes, she has officially reached rock bottom with the monster porn!" You have corrupted me. I have been corrupted.

karen hahaah oh my god, that makes me so happy.

Travelling Sunny I hear you, Trudi. I saw this and thought about Story of the Eye... http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43...

message 4: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Excellent. Now I have not only been corrupted, I have been quoted ;)

karen oh, no! you want i should remove it?? i loved that quote so much!

message 6: by Trudi (new)

Trudi LOL!!! Of course not! I'm flattered, and glad it made you giggle :)

message 7: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie I thought maybe it was an expression I never heard of. Is it somehow based on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vf0xC...? Anything to do with eyes like this reminds me of un chien andalou :-(

message 8: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome I thought it was from a Beatles song.

message 9: by Becca (new)

Becca Is eating donkey eyes more painful for you, or

message 10: by Becca (new)

Becca the donkey?

message 11: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul (the title does indeed come from the Neutral Milk Hotel tune!)

karen yay! now i can put this on "welcome, author!"

message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill Tamahome wrote: "I thought it was from a Beatles song."

that was yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye.

message 14: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Duuuude. This premise appeals to me so much right now. (The one thing that doesn't make sense is why animals are stripped of their vocal cords. But I am more than willing to read the book in order to find out why.)

message 15: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Some people really do have their pets' vocal cords removed, did you know that?

karen seriously? what fuckers.

message 17: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I know. Years ago when I was helping my parents look for a dog to adopt, we went to visit this Chesapeake Bay Retriever that was being given away by the owner's wife, and when we got there she was all casually "And I had his vocal cords taken out, so he can't bark" like that was a selling point. The poor dog could only make this awful wheezing noise like he was choking to death. We didn't adopt him because the sound was too upsetting.

Brett Savory You have a crush on us? *blush* ;-)

karen aw, you know i do....

karen congratulations, paul tremblay!


message 21: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul thanks! and yay!

karen it is so exciting!

Nenia *the flagrant liberal* Campbell Ahhh! He has a new book out? I am excite.

Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ I love this review so much. I too thought this was a monsterporn review until I saw the author.

And he's wearing a Vertigo shirt!?!? Could he get any more awesome??

message 25: by Mad Tom (new) - added it

Mad Tom Nice review! Sounds intriguing.

karen hahaah you guys and your filthy minds!! i'm so proud of you all!

this is actually an older book of his - i just thought i'd put it out in front of your eyes again because i'm fond of him and other people should be, too!

message 27: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea Humphrey JEALOUS!!!!!!!!

tetehthomasv, I Love!! What you said

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