*Finalist for the Independent Author Network's 2019 Book of the Year Award in Humor/Comedy/Satire
Q: When trusting your baser instincts threatens to strip your hold on sanity, who do you turn to? A: A turkey in the woods.
A primal force awakens in Tommy after learning of his mother’s impending death. She’s all right, not in the hospital on life support or anything, but her days are numbered. Returning to Buffalo made all kinds of sense, but Tommy’s efforts to “take care of” his mom face plant when she refuses to let him help around the house. He teeters on the cusp of crashing into old patterns – but this canine has learned a few tricks since leaving for LA. Tommy engages his writer-brain in passing the time concocting elaborate plots and second-guessing his cousin’s livelihood – certain something more nefarious is brewing. And yet, who is he to point fingers when waking up covered in dirt with no memory becomes a regular “thing”. Amidst a neurotic, potentially psychotic, break Tommy is forced to face a past ready to plow right into his future. Reminiscent of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, I Animal immerses you in the head space of a Xennial neuroses. An amazing story of a dysfunctional family full of fun, laughter, love, and a sprinkle of crime.
KEVIN DEL PRINCIPE is a writer and film director. I Animal is Del Principe's debut novel, published by Tumbleweed Books. The son of a snowplow truck driver and a school nurse, Kevin grew up outside of Buffalo, New York. Later, he worked in Los Angeles and taught screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University. Kevin now makes his home in Memphis, Tennessee and teaches in the Department of Media Studies at Rhodes College. He directed and co-wrote the feature film, UP ON THE GLASS, now available in North America through Gravitas Ventures and in the UK via Miracle Media. Kevin hosts The Good Rascals podcast and is the Founder of the production and publishing company Dog Heart Land. He earned his MFA in Writing for Screen and Television at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
I Animal is unique in its depth of heart meets comedy based in personality. The unreliable narrator of Tommy D’Angelo is hilarious in his neuroticism. He is constantly stretched between the opposing forces of his desire to be a good person and doubt that he is a person at all. This work of fiction is provocative in the sense that it pushes us to think and feel beyond the borders of what is socially and intellectually comfortable for a 21st-century consumerist culture. Tommy’s heroism lies in the fact that, like most of us, he overcomes his often misguided judgements of people with his profound empathy for those he comes in contact with. Ultimately, I Animal reminds us to treasure the precious connections we maintain with other living beings. We could use more works of fiction like I Animal, and I look forward to reading whatever Kevin Del Principe writes next.
A youthful, raw and vulnerable novel with ironic wit; the protagonist, a striving writer in LA, leaves for his hometown of Buffalo NY to visit his terminally sick mother. Here we enter a slice of middle-class Americana in the old Northeastern rustbelt. The juxtapositions of both worlds are highlighted in their character or lack of. Lyrical soliloquies ponder the trials and tribulation. The main character reasons and de-reasons with insights and philosophy in complex humor, self-deprecation, neurotic, manic explaining himself to himself, dead or undead, or while talking to a turkey friend while becoming a wolf. He meets old relationships and some new - more awkward temperament ensues, more trouble and bonding is forged. For me, the sustained disemboweling of contemporary paradigms, and irreverence for our insane politically correct norms, keep a stimulating tension throughout. Whether intended or not I suspect "author intrusion" is injected and that adds to the dynamic of this book. A creative foray both intimate and skittish, revealing the absurd paradoxes of our time. You get a sense that the author rode a few euphoric wild rides in the writing, and enjoyed sticking it to us. As well he should. I resonate with that premise - his demolition and bonding. "She doesn't know if I am saying something thoughtful about the afterlife or want a sandwich, I really said both things while not saying anything. It's beautiful."
This book kept me turning the pages. It is not a dense read but it is packed with an examination of modern life and the modern internal strife. In the story of Tommy coming home to spend time with his terminal ill mother, the author explores a man coming to terms with his relationship with his parents, his cousins, his ex-wife, and a potential love interest.
At the same time, the main character is spending his nights as a wolf, having a conversation with a turkey. What does that stand for? To me, Tommy is an overly-sensitive person that feels the demands of putting duty over self. His wolf-self is the conflict of that. In the story, a beautiful underage girl is tempting to him. Throughout the story, he enjoys her beauty but redirects himself to keep it not sexual. Like an animal, men have a sexual drive to go after beauty. The more he denies this urge (thank goodness), the more he runs into the woods in response.
This story is memorable and the characters will stick with me for a long time.
I rather enjoyed this book. Being a fellow Buffalonian and current resident of the city, I get the love/hate relationship Tommy has for his home town. Most of us have had, at one point in our lives, that internal struggle, should we leave, should we stay? Should we stay and listen to the opinions of our city by those that left? Should we leave and opine our hometown? Tommy figures this out as well as how to be a man with animalistic tendencies, conquer adulthood, and overcome life's cruel realities. He knows that maybe the answers to life and its grand plans aren't thousands of miles away from his birth place.
We are a decent bunch here in the Queen City. Buffalo citizens are people with tough armor coping with the stigma of our reputation and our blue collar mentality. But Cheektowaga? Come on! I Animal is worth another read.
A great read! One moment the author had me cracking up over the humorous antics of the characters (it’s easy to recognize that the author also works in the visual media of film – the scenes are so vividly brought to life), and the next moment I found myself reading and rereading thought-provoking passages about human nature. The author blends the absurd together with wry humor and poignant truths. The style and protagonist reminded me of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, but for those of us firmly in adulthood age-wise, yet still figuring it all out; however, perhaps it is wrong of me to compare iAnimal to any other works, as Kevin Del Principe has a voice that is wholly unique.
I Animal was an outstanding read. I had the pleasure of attending a book reading last August in Buffalo, and immediately knew I had to buy it. The tale details the tragedy that is life, and Tommy's struggle to maintain his sanity through it all. The writing mixes wry humor, a poignant plot, and profound insight in a way that made me continue reading much later in the evening than I had intended to on multiple occasions. Worthy of another read - my book is full of dog-ears that I'm looking forward to revisit.
Excellent book! Being from Buffalo (really the surrounding areas) was a huge hit for me. Kevin's intelligence and sharp humor popped right from the beginning of the story. I laughed out loud several times and even cried at one point. That's how I know the author has me fully engaged. Loved the story and how it was told. After reading some initial reviews of I Animal, I reread Catcher in the Rye and can definitely see some similarities to Salinger's work. Looking forward to Kevin's next book!
A heartfelt foray into the interplay of emotions and mind. This book takes us on a journey of trials disappointment longing and bittersweet transcendence. As we all have to play the hand we’re dealt, this book offers up that through honest acceptance of oneself, and the roles one is born into, great transformations are possible. We all must balance playing our part in our own families as we strive to become our better selves. A must read!
Lovely journey to a place where cultures have met and kind of “drained away” into a kind of social and emotional garage sale. If that’s where you came from, how do you figure out how to put together all those loose items to find your life? I never thought anyone would dare try to make Cheektowaga real! Congrats, Kevin!
Read I Animal. Stock it in your independently owned book store. Buy it for a friend or a family member. You won't be disappointed. Each character is charismatic in their own way. There is a place in this story for everyone to connect and feel at home. I feel like this is the story we would all write if we were all given the gift of putting words together so seemingly and perfectly.
I enjoyed this book. It's an interesting and quick read, and I found myself laughing out loud at some of the thoughts Tommy has. Full disclosure - I had met the author, who gave me a copy to read. The writing definitely reminded me of conversations with him, and I sometimes had to remind myself that Tommy was not Kevin. Overall, worth checking out!
Great book! This is a book about an area near my home town. Well written and enjoyable!! So glad I read it! This book depicts the struggles all of us have when dealing with family and places we think we left behind! Loved it!
I Animal is what I would describe as a slow-burn / contemplative narrative, immersing you directly into the wintery atmosphere of a dying mother, beautifully melodic and vivid. The prose is incisive and funny, would definitely recommend to anybody in need of a new book to order it.
I loved this novel by Kevin DelPrincipe. Immediately, you are drawn into the book by its first person perspective and able to get into the mindset of the main character, a struggling screenwriter, as he must return home to Buffalo to care for his ailing mother. The humor is dry, biting, and satirical. The main character has some hilarious observations about life, his career, and other things as he becomes reacquainted with his hometown and the strange occurrences that start to happen to him. Highly recommend this one.