James's Reviews > Pluto, Animal Lover

Pluto, Animal Lover by Laren Stover
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's review
Jun 13, 11

Some viewers of No Country for Old Men will remember it as a film they didn't want to yield to, but couldn't resist; a similar current of emotions kept me clawing through the pages of Pluto, Animal Lover. More wry satire than sober psychological portrait, the more you want to rise above it, the more deeply it pulls you under. You find yourself feeling guilty for laughing at Pluto's perversities. I have long admired this debut by a hilariouly wicked talent pecking her way into the literary preening order, and have long wondered what kind of mind could have hatched it. The book's greatest perversity is that Pluto's evil plots are so well intended, fueled as they are by a species of idealism as strategic as it is naïve, a breed of cold-blooded compassion fearfully symmetrical with that of characters such as Julian Assange and his ilk. But there's more at work here than that: what really creeps one out are the moments of self-recogniton one feels with Pluto and with the bemused-goddess psyche of his creator. This leads to flashes of self-recognition like one in the Yeats poem "The Grey Rock," just after the spirit Aoife (cool name), trembling with passion in the banquet hall of the gods, overflows with grief and rage that her lover, a mortal, has forsaken her divine protection and has thus been slain upon the battlefield.

She cast herself upon the ground
And rent her clothes and made her moan:
'Why are they faithless when their might
Is from the holy shades that rove
The grey rock and the windy light?
Why should the faithfullest heart most love
The bitter sweetness of false faces?
Why must the lasting love what passes,
Why are the gods by men betrayed?'

But thereon every god stood up
With a slow smile and without sound,
And stretching forth his arm and cup
To where she moaned upon the ground,
Suddenly drenched her to the skin;
And she with Goban's wine adrip,
No more remembering what had been.
Stared at the gods with laughing lip.

If Pluto has a moral, it's in the direction of lectio divina, of a reading that opens to a sense of divine detachment. As Yeats wrote of this poem, "The moral's yours because it's mine." That sense of bemused detachment was, for the poet, one of our deepest responsibilities.

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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Troy Oh this is one of my all-time favorite books!! I loved this one!

Laren James,
What a beautiful review...

message 3: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Tucker I definitely will try to get my hands on this! Thanks for the recommendation.

message 4: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha Thanks for the recommendation, James. I purchased it used from Amazon for .01. Postage was more, of course.

message 5: by Anastasia (new) - added it

Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont Added to my list, James. Thanks

message 6: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle Thanks for the recommendation. On my wishlist!

message 7: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Looks great, I've added it to my list, thanks for the recommendation!

message 8: by Claudiu (new) - added it

Claudiu Added to my 'To read pile'. Thanks for the recommendation.

message 9: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Shimotakahara Thanks for the recommendation! The perfect book for me to take on vacation.

message 10: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks for the recommendation

message 11: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve A really good review James. Really descriptive and honest, without giving away the plot for those who might want to read it. Recommendation appreciated!

message 12: by lc (new)

lc ty for the recommendation :)

message 13: by Federica (new) - added it

Federica Thank you for the recommendation James. Your review made me curious about both the book and the author! Tagged the book as "to-read"

message 14: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Thanks for the recommendation! Put in request at the library today :)

message 15: by Federica (new) - added it

Federica I got the book last week. I will start reading it soon!

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