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War Against the Animals

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  329 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Widely praised for his deft prose and brilliant characterizations, Paul Russell has become increasingly regarded as one of the finest contemporary American novelists. Now, with War Against the Animals, he returns with his richest, most accomplished, and most compelling work yet.

Living in small town in upstate New York, middle-aged Cameron Barnes has, after almost dying, re
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 6th 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  329 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Joseph Longo
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It is the second novel I read by Paul Russell. The first was "The Coming Storm" which I also enjoyed. Russell is an involving and perceptive storyteller and currently is a favorite writer of mine; I am eager to read more of his novels.

His main character, Cameron, whom I deeply cared about, is HIV positive and has been sick on and off for a while. He is sophisticated, educated, and successfully designs gardens. He is dealing with the death of one ex-lover and the recent brea
J.T. Holden
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I suppose there will be some who will write this off as yet another middle-aged-man-living-with-aids story, or even a May/December love tale. But there is so much more here than either of those could possibly begin to touch on. Russell is in search of the truth, and when he discovers it, his grasp is sure.

While Cameron (a character that seems almost tailored to the talents of actor Kevin Spacey) is a very credible and extremely likeable protagonist, Russell's true achievement here is in the crea
I really liked this novel because I closely identified with the protagonist, Cameron. He's an accomplished landscape architect who moved from NYC to rural New York, to a small conservative, "red-neck" village. I did that about the same age as he after living in St. Louis, NYC and DC. He adapted well to his rural life, as have I. The novel is about his interfacing and developing relationships with the local "red-necks" and the results of such a collision for both sides. I've been there. I've give ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite like this book actually. The characters in this book are very interesting to read of and it was quite honest and heartbreaking.

Okay, with that being stated. I do find the plot a little bit stagnant and just so-so for me but that never made me want to stop to read it because I really care about the characters especially Cameron's life with AIDS and the brotherhood relationship between Jesse and Kyle and also on how Jesse dealt with his (sexuality) confusion with Cameron.

It was a slow pa
Harry Wingfield
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! In the middle of a growing culture war between the rural locals and the mostly gay new residents from the city, in a small community in upstate New York, a young local comes of age due in part to his interactions with a middle aged gay man he works for. The conflicts in the younger local man's life are echoed by the memories the gay man has of his own childhood and youth. I identified with the well-drawn characters, and was captivated by the plot, wanting to race through the book to see wha ...more
dana brown
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m comfortable with this writer - for me, reading his words is like a conversation with a trusted friend. Some parts are flamboyant and hit me as a bit much but overall, I felt like the characters were each dealing with life from their perspective as well as they could. Everybody in the story has a position to hold which is a strength and a weakness of the book. I’ll read more Paul Russell, that’s for sure
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really don't understand the other reviews on here that rated this book as five stars. I wanted to like this book and I tried, thus the whole reason why I finished it however the plot line moves at such a tedious pace its hard to stay interested. The chapters don't even close with any sort of incentive that would make you want to turn the page and go on. Its basically a book about people feeling awkward around each other and reflecting and ruminating on the past times of some distant life which ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Another novel about an older gay man looking back at his life and loves as he faces the end brought on by, you guessed it, AIDS.
Depressing that gay writers are caught up in the same tired cliches as everyone else...
Carlos Mock
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
War Against The Animals by Paul Russell

As someone who fazed what our protagonist, Cameron Barnes, went through -- almost dying from AIDS to then come back to life and grow old -- this novel is quite personal.

After recovering from his illness, Cameron moves to Stone Hollow, a small town in the Hudson River Valley in New York State - where many New York City gays have purchased properties and are engaged a conflict between the townies and the newcomers. Cameron's lover of eight years, Dan Futrell
Idit Bourla
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It was a magnificent story. A really special one - not just a love story between a middle aged man and a youth. it was more than that. I was akeptic at first, and the pace is a bit slow, but this is just a build-up towards the climax in the last chapters. Cameron and Jesse's night was astonishing and beautiful. I won't ever forget it. their scene together, that magical night, it was worth reading even 500 hundred pages of build up. ...more
Jason Tank
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, realist
A story about two different men dealing with death (of different sorts for each) while trying to figure out how to live. Written and set in the 90s, AIDS figures heavily without feeling cloying or cheap. I guess you could call it a coming-of-age story mixed with a coming-of-middle-age story.
Mark Brown
Loved it! Could see so many similarities to the region my wife and I live in as well as places we have visited.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Would’ve been five but I didn’t like the ending.
Lewis Smith
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
have this in paperback
May 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Oh what to say about this one?

The writer writes well. The character of Cameron Barnes, an aging AIDS afflicted homosexual is well-defined.

I'm afraid that's where my compliments end. The other characters were flat and cliched. Young Jesse is a red-neck with poor grammar. He is struggling with his sexuality. His girlfriend is chubby and dull. His mother is a flat, uninvolved chain-smoker. His brother is a stereotype of the homophobic small-town dullard. The story was tedious. Well-past-middle-age
Vic Marriott
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-loved
I couldn't put this book down once I started. The two central characters glow with nuance and intricacy. And are surrounded by a tapestry of vivid characters, places, memories, regrets, passions, and ultimately as each searches for dignity in their own humiliations a not quite resolved salvation.

I highly recommend this book to admirers of good writing and well told stories of complicated people in difficult situations. This book very much deserves to stand with the best of Marilynne Robinson.
Shane Pennell
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is an absolutely wonderful novel and, along with Keith Hale's Clicking Beat on the Brink of Nada, one of the two gay-themed books that I can't understand why there is no film version. It's a better story, in my opinion, than Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World, and that novel made for an incredible film. Compelling characters, a setting that shapes the action, and a story that holds you close. ...more
Carroll Winn
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Paul Russell hooks me within 10 pages and I can not stop until I binge read till the end. This was no different. He can tell a story with suspense that will make one hold one's breath. I finished in 3 or 4 days of reading into the night and every available moment each day. This book is all kind of things, mystery, coming out, family alienation, self loathing and an ending you will not want to spoil by reading the end first! Enjoy! ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Paul Russell has demonstrated his gift for developing unforgettable characters in his previous work, but in his latest novel, he reaches new heights. The plot focuses on the uneasy interactions between the local citizens of a small town in upstate New York, and its growing faction of gay transplants from Manhattan and other urban areas. Russell manages to avoid any of the usual pitfalls inherent in such a plot in several ways.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I love Paul Russell. This was not one of his best. I was fascinated by Boys of Life and Coming Storm. This one left me wanting more.
Drag Queens Read
A beautiful and captivating tale of life, death, prejudice and the endearing power of the human heart. A must on any LGBT bookshelf
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing

What an incredible book!
David W.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am on a roll. Another great book. But another great thing is that now I have another author I know I like and can look for their other books. First Wally Lamb and now Paul Russell.
Tad Richards
Jun 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Takes place in my home ground, which is always fun. Good characters, good read.
John Treat
Sep 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
I disliked Cameron and his friends from the start.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
I tried to get into it, but I couldn't. ...more
David Lohmeier
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been reading gay fiction/literature for close to 30 years, and Paul Russell really stands out as one of my favorites. The characters and situations pull yu in and make you think. A lot. ...more
Jim Nulty
Coming soon ......
Amanda Posner
Sep 30, 2007 rated it liked it
written by one of my former college professors . . .
rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2016
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Paul Russell received his doctorate from Cornell in 1983 for a dissertation on the novelist Vladimir Nabokov and is currently a Professor in the English Department at Vassar College.

His fourth novel, The Coming Storm won the 2000 Ferro-Grumley Award for Gay Male Fiction.

His short fiction has appeared in literary

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