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You're an Animal, Viskovitz

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  825 ratings  ·  101 reviews
In this wickedly hilarious collection of fables, Alessandro Boffa introduces us to Viskovitz and his never-ending search for his true love, Ljuba. As he changes from a lovelorn lion to a jealous finch, from a confused dung beetle to an enlightened police dog, Viskovitz embraces his metamorphoses with wry humor and an oftentimes painful sense of self.

As an ant, Viskovitz
...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 17th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  825 ratings  ·  101 reviews


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Heather
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I think about it... the more I absolutely LOVE this book.... it has, without a doubt, become one of my favorites. The best part is- each story is individual- so skipping around, re-reading, or getting a quick-wit literary fix are all possible options with this book.

great idea(s). great voice. creative concept. Fantastic book.

****For those of you having trouble "getting-in-to-it"... skip to another chapter!!! It's not a linear plot- it's a book of fable-esque and very separate short
...more
Hanne Westrum Hvammen
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved it! Absolutely wonderful! Funny, witty, interesting and intelligently written! One of my favorites, by far! Now-a-days I read it for my pre-husband when going to bed. And he laughs out load, and loves it just as much as I do!
M M
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago, Olivia Judson burst onto the scene with Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice To All Creation. Various animals wrote to this biological agony-aunt asking for tips for better sex and procreation, and she gave them very pertinent advice. How to avoid being eaten by your mate after sex was one important topic, especially when you are a few hundred times smaller than her. A successful television show followed.

A bit later, Isabella Rossellini got into the act with her online series of videos
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Bobby
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A 4.5 star effort. An odd (in a good way), quirky book about Viskovitz and his adventures on the ladder of evolution, or more accurately, reincarnation. The book is made up of very-short short stories, in each of which Viskovitz is a different animal/insect (though always male). And in each story, he mates/tries to mate with the love of his life, while participating in the rat-race (no pun intended) of daily existence. Written by a biologist, there is enough science here that the whole book is ...more
Thomas
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the prologue, and immediately knew that I would like this book. A collection of short stories starring the protagonist Viskovitz as a different animal/insect each time - but always searching for admiration, for sex, for that beloved truelove, Ljuba. One of my favourites was as a quixotic genocidal scorpion, another as a sponge sporting a rather disturbing sex scene. The stories are usually hilarious, with an (given who he is in each story) absurdly astute and scheming protagonist - ...more
Trin
Jun 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, italian-lit
This is a really funny clever book, written by a biologist, and what he does is use the mating habits of all these different species of animals to reflect on the ridiculousness, the tragedy, the beauty, and the futility of the human animal's mating games. Viskovitz, in the various interconnected stories in this book, is at times a shark, a rat, a lion, a praying mantis, a pig, an ant, a bee...and his fumblings in all these forms to find love-and-sex, sex-and-love, are both hilarious and tragic. ...more
Dimpf81
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books, and best Prologue ever!

So there we were on that ice floe, just the two of us, adrift in the polar night. Viskovitz turned and said 'I'd like you to get our conversation down in black and white.'

'It's not possible,' I said. 'I'm no typist. I'm not a writer. I'm a penguin. As far as I'm concerned, "getting it down in black and white" means making more penguins.'

So instead there I was a month later, standing still with an egg under my belly, remembering...

I was the one
...more
Michelle
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay. It was a fun read. Basically, it takes Ovid's metamorphosis and follow a male named Viskovitz through his romantic pursuit of a mate named Ljuba in the bodies of many different species. It's weirdly a little sexist in the lion section, but it's pretty funny. The stories are pretty funny, and some are very short, so it makes for a quick read.
Lavinia
Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
A funny mix of fables, irony, satire, human typology and delicious language. I loled a lot, which is, I think, the ultimate aim of it.
Jana
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A superb book which was recommended to me by my friend for our book club.
Elizabeth
Apr 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t read very much fiction at all these days, and what I have been reading has all been pretty straightforward, so this odd little book wins the title of “Weirdest Book I’ve Read Since Grad School.” The author is a biologist, and this is a collection of stories about a character named Viskovitz who is reincarnated (well, maybe; I think the last story tells us all we know about what’s happening to Viskovitz, but “reincarnated” is as good a word as any) over and over in the bodies of different ...more
James
You’re an Animal, Viskovitz!
Alessandro Boffa
Random House, 2002

This book is almost absurdly clever. It is a collection of short stories featuring the protagonist Viskovitz and his antagonistic soulmate Ljuba in a diverse variety of animal forms. In “You’ve Made a Bad Name for Yourself, Viskovitz” he is a tyrannical ant king. In “But Don’t You Ever Think of Sex, Viskovitz” he is a narcissistic snail. Viskovitz is both victor and victim and many shades between, but he is always ultimately
...more
Gill
May 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
I picked this up in a charity shop purely because the cover looked pretty and it had an odd title. I flicked it open and read the Prologue:

“Viskovitz turned and said, “I’d like you to get our conversation down in black and white.” “It’s not possible”, I answered. “I’m not a typist. I’m not a writer. I’m a penguin. As far as I’m concerned, getting it down in black and white means making more penguins.”

It was so strange I couldn’t leave it there. When I started it I thought it was great, very
...more
Ola
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked the book rather randomly from the local library and I was surprised by this little gem. It's a collection of charming short stories and even though after reading couple of them you more or less know what to expect of the next one, it was quite interesting for me to follow the adventures of unlucky Viskovitz as different species of animals. I first read the book not really knowing English very well and can say that the vocabulary is rather complex here. Only now, some years later, I can ...more
sisterimapoet
Jan 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to sisterimapoet by: Mew
Shelves: fiction-2010
When I started this I thought it was great. I was genuinely excited about it, thinking it clever and funny and touching. I was eager to move through each little chapter, encountering new animals on the way.

But, about a third of the way through it started to grow a little dull. Because essentially you know what's coming each time. It started to feel like Boffia had found a winning formula, but overused it - just substituting in a new animal and its specific details each time.

I think the charm
...more
Punk
Jun 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Stories. Viskovitz is an animal, literally. He's an elk. He's a pig. He's a rat. He's a self-lovin' snail. Each chapter features Viskovitz as a different animal, searching for love, or, when that fails, sex.

This is a funny, absurd, weird little book and the satire reminded me of Vonnegut -- off-hand, yet over the top. If I had read Animal Farm I could compare it to that in some way, but I haven't so I won't. Instead I'll say that if you want to read about the courtship problems inherit in
...more
Jim
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little while to get into this collection of short stories. I had to start read it a couple of times, but when I got familiar with the peculiar jargon I really liked it. It is at times ridiculously funny and bizarre. The author takes us into the animal kingdom and let us meet squirrels, snails and lions, to mention a few of the creatures represented, and partake in their daily problems and life decisions. Boffa has a background as a biologist, and uses this to full extent as he hurls ...more
Boy Blue
This is an excellent collection of short stories which reveal more about the human condition through animals than most literature can achieve with thousands of words about human characters. It's also hilarious, and has a good book's rare ability to make you laugh out loud. From the drug dog addicted to the drugs he's trained to find, to the lion in love with the antelope he should eat, and a sponge that ends up mating with itself and every family member it has in an incestuous flurry, this book ...more
Shannan
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smart, funny collection of vignettes of life and love from the point of view of Viskovitz, a somewhat ridiculous fellow living variously as a dormouse, a lion, a microbe, a shark, etc. The author is a biologist and much of the humor comes from the vagaries of nature. I particularly loved "The Less Said the Better, Viskovitz," a meditation on fish language, and "You're a Prickly Fellow, Viskovitz," a Western populated with scorpions. Well worth reading.
Taylor
May 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I had a very difficult time getting into this; I read the first several stories over a period of weeks and months. Later, I read the rest in a day; I'm not sure if they were better or if it was just my frame of mind. Some were interesting, even poignant at times, and a certain story sticks with me, but I'm fairly sure my initial reluctance to enjoy it was a better summary for the collection than a stronger reaction to a few pieces of it.
Jessica Haider
Clever, satirical 21st century animal fables. Each fable features the lead character Viskovitz trying to find love as a different animal including a dog, an elk, a spider and a microbe. Boffa anthropomorphizes the animals so that they have human emotions such as lust, affection and jealousy. If you want a total break and 180 degree turn from whatever you've been reading lately, I recommend this book.
Adeline
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PROLOGUE

So there we were on that ice floe, just the two of us, adrift in the polar night. Viskovitz turned and said 'I'd like you to get our conversation down in black and white.'

'It's not possible,' I said. 'I'm no typist. I'm not a writer. I'm a penguin. As far as I'm concerned, "getting it down in black and white" means making more penguins.'

So instead there I was a month later, standing still with an egg under my belly, remembering...

I was the one who brought up the subject.
Maisie
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You're an Animal, Viskovitz! is a strange book - a compendium of short stories from the view of various creatures depicting everyday activites: life, sex and death. Boffa manages to introduce complex human emotion to otherwise simple characters including a sociopathic scorpion, a narcissistic snail and an existential amoeba. A winding collection taking in all aspects of living whilst maintaining a cynical humour before ending with an unexpectedly philosophical and emotive final chapter.
Jessica
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books! A collection of short stories in which each chapter the protagonist, Viskovitz, is a different animal. Written by a russian biologist, the book captures Viskovitz' natural urges as he searches for sex, food, status, and love as succumbed to his animal instincts. For example, as a lion he falls in love with a deer, and although he wants to marry her, he also wants to eat her. As a chameleon, he doesn't know who his love is as she changes shape. An easy and fast read.
sara
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it
This is a supremely odd book that takes a look at animal behaviors over a bunch of different species, and in the subtext compares them to human behaviors.

All of the vignettes are about an animal, Viskovitz, in pursuit of the love of his many lives, Ljuba, and the strange and familiar ways different species pursue love, sex, family, and survival. I think my favorite was the sponges. Or the scorpions.
Kris
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a surprise! This book was excellent, with the hero Viskovitz and his lovely girl, his ugly fallback girl, and his inept "friends" appearing and reappearing in different situations in each chapter... as different animals. Viskovitz and company inhabit the lives of mice, snails, sponges, dogs, parrots, sharks, and even amoebas in these well-written mini-chapters that never fail to amuse. It's also easily readable in one sitting.
Bonnie Jeanne
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this is very funny. The terminology is extremely scientific so you have to kind of stumble over the various words for animal reproductive organs and just imagine where they are located. However, that adds to the fun. This is erotica in code, sort of. [return:][return:]The one where Viskovitz becomes a praying mantis is my one of favorite. I won't give away the punchline, but it had me giggling in the cafe at work which prompted questions that made me blush when I had to answer.
Ivona
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
witty... and so much fun!
Viskovitz is a different animal in each story and always falls in love with a female called Liuba. And is always deceived by her.
The best story is probably the one in which he is a snail and sets out on a long trip towards the Liuba that he sees in the far-off distance... when he gets to "her" after alomst half of his life he discovers ...

...but I cannot tell you THAT! you'll have to find out on your own
Fabiola Frazzle
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so funny i rarely read funny books but this one is worth it. Its funny how Visko can compare us women to animals its just different stories of a Visko and the different woman's in his life.How hes always in and out of love hes never steady. how he thinks hes in love but meets another woman and it all happens again. I can also relate yo this book thats why it catches my attention it always leaves me wondering will visko ever be tied down?
Sydney
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at my local Goodwill because of the cover. I thought it was a children's book until I read the synopsis and thought it would be a strange read for a certain mood. The first few stories were hilarious and I found myself laughing at quite a few parts. Of course with a collection of stories, even if they are from the same author with the same style, there were a few I didn't like very much.
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Alessandro Boffa was born in Moscow. He worked as a biologist in Italy, lives in Thailand and Rome. "You're an animal, Viskovitz" is his first book. It has achieved great success in Italy and around the globe. It has been translated to over twenty languages. More about this book and his opinion on writing it, you can find here.
“So there we were on that ice floe, just the two of us, adrift in the polar night. Viskovitz turned and said, "I'd like you to get our conversation down in black and white."
"It's not possible," I answered. "I'm not a typist. I'm not a writer. I'm a penguin. As far as I'm concerned 'getting it down in black and white' means making more penguins."
So instead, there I was a month later, standing still with an egg under my belly, remembering...
I was the one who had brought up the subject.”
5 likes
“It wasn't easy to develop a healthy personality when the canals of your flagellate chambers were held in common with an invaginated mother, incestuous sisters and a bisexual father. When the only anatomical features on which you could construct an identity were the gastral cavity and the aperture of your osculum. The tragedy of being a vegetable was that you couldn't commit suicide. The advantage of being a sponge was that you could drown your sorrows.” 2 likes
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