Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Eating Mammals: Three Novellas” as Want to Read:
Eating Mammals: Three Novellas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Eating Mammals: Three Novellas

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In the tradition of T. C. Boyle, Steven Millhauser, and Michel Faber—with a penchant for the macabre worthy of Irvine Welsh—comes Eating Mammals.

Gypsies, businessmen, servants, masters, and unwise children come together in three mythical tales from Victorian England. Eating Mammals evokes a lost time and place in which the realm of the magical seems almost too possible: a
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 14th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Eating Mammals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Eating Mammals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  30 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Eating Mammals: Three Novellas
Poor John Barlow. His book Eating Mammals sat for years in the bargain section of the Barnes & Noble website before I bothered to buy a copy. Every summer and winter, every twice-yearly clearance sale for years, I scrolled through the list of cheap, bargain, clearance books, picking out the ones that caught my eye, adding to the ever-growing pile of cheap short story collections I had bought from other seasonal B&N clearance sales--and every time, Eating Mammals got left behind. Never made the f ...more
Moira Burke
"Witty, bizarre tales with ridiculous descriptions of appetite and girth. First, we have the professional eater:
One evening, after a particularly successful show in which he had performed a routine entitled Americana (forty-eight hot dogs, one for each star; thirteen slices of apple pie, one for each stripe; twenty-eight cups of punch, one for each president; and a brandy for Lincoln), he was approached by a thin, fragile man who spoke in a strange accent, and who had the eves of someone who ex
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthology
The three novellas of this book's title are: the title story 'Eating Mammals' which is about a professional eater called Captain Gusto, (kind of like Kobayashi Takeru only he'll literally eat anything), 'The Possession of Thomas-Bessie: a Victorian Melodrama' about a strange cat, born with a pair of small wings (don't worry, it's not in the least cutesy or cat-fancieresque), and finally 'The Donkey Wedding at Gomersal, recounted by an inhabitant of that place' about a rather odd wedding (I'll le ...more
Three novellas, all focused around 'mammals' and 'eating'. The first story was my favorite starting off, but got sort of slow towards the end. The second story was mediocre, and the third story I didn't think I would like, but turned out to be my absolute favorite. It also made me sort of hungry. I admit, I bought it for the title, and because it was on the Bargain Rack at Barnes & Nobles, but all in all, I wasn't disappointed.


I practically devoured it (lol) in my haste to finish. It was re
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Three novellas, best described as "quirky". The title is puzzling, because although eating is a prominent theme in two of the stories, it has no obvious relevance to the longest novella, "The Possession of Thomas-Bessie" (a Victorian melodrama), the tale of the winged cat of Yorkshire and the misfortunes of those who tried to possess him.

The stories are amusing, though the author's style is somewhat rambling, and the first and third stories are weak as far as plot is concerned. There are a coup
Sarah Menezes
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Maybe more like a 3 3/4 stars, but now I'm just getting ridiculous.
This three-novella collection was very enjoyable, humorous, well-written, and incredibly British. Although each of the novella's stories have very different subject matter, they all connect in theme and even in time an place setting, giving a good sense of the English Victorian era and classic British humor.
Plus anything with flying cats and pork-pies always gets a gold-star from this end.
Sarah Key
Mar 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2008-or-before
This book was pathetic. I practically had to force myself through the second story with the thought that "Hey, maybe the third short story will be as good as the first." I was wrong. The third story was probably worse than the second on. The only part of this book worth reading is the first story. ...more
Sep 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
How could I not love a book with gypsies and flying cats?
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book took its blessed time to complete, though it's mostly through my own fault. Being three short novellas, I read one at a time, across the year.

This is a set of stories deeply in love with old times. The most recent story (the first and titular one) still takes place before the age of television. The other two feel far more medieval. With the Donkey Wedding, that old mood leaves the narrative a bit dry (though the meat pies, in description, made me hungry throughout). The story of Thoma
Nitya Iyer
Oct 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1star
What the hell did I just read?

No seriously!

For some reason, this book managed to hit all of my major distastes, and yet I kept reading, hoping against hope to find something I would like.

And I did.

It ended.

Honestly, the third story was my favorite, although that's not saying much, because it featured some characters I would have loved to learn more about.

Otherwise, it felt like a nausea-inducing, wordy read.

At least it was a quick read though.
Shelby Hamon
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Maybe it's my fault for not doing more research but as i started reading this i was...shocked to find that it was quite absurd which is not my style of entertainment or humor. I did finish this as that is my style but i was confused the entire time.

I have considered returning and rereading a story or two and see if i enjoy them more now that i know they are whimsical and silly. I will update my review if i decide to do that.
Ben Brackett
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
While he certainly is a talented writer, I didn't actually enjoy any of these stories. ...more
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I can only remember two of the three stories. They all seem to take place in the earlier half of this century or earlier, and they all have a slightly creepy vibe I wouldn't call horror, but maybe uneasiness? One is about a winged cat that is feared by some, loved by others, and coveted by a lot of people who see it as a money-maker. You never know if the cat has any good or evil to it, but it does cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people. The other story is about a guy who makes a living doin ...more
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-adult
Though the "mammal" theme seems a bit tenuous as a link, all three of the novellas are enjoyable in their own ways, all set against a Victorian backdrop. Overall, I felt the first to be the strongest overall, with the second the most Gothic in feel, and the third the funniest. The first novella has a bit of shock value towards the end but make no mistake, this is not a tale that glorifies animal cruelty but an exploration of performance, exploitation, the lies that we tell ourselves, and the pri ...more
Сборник из трёх "ярмарочных" историй, ярких, своеобразных и неправдоподобных. В компанию к летающей кошке и мужчине, поедающему стулья, так и просятся Женщина с бородой, сиамские близнецы, и прочие невиданные чудеса. Решительно не понимаю критиков, окрестивших автора "викторианским панком". Ну да, физиологизма и грязи в описаниях хватает, но истинный панк же не в этом, м? ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
I picked this up on a whim when I had a gift certificate and read it in the mid '00s. Yuck. I did not enjoy it at all, although I managed to finish it. Fortunately I have managed to forget most of it, and I have no plans to even try to re-read it to analyze and explain why I didn't like it. I just didn't. 'Nuff said. ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Funny and strange. These novellas all take place in Victorian times, and Barlow both represents it fondly and pokes fun at it. The first two novellas each had one horrifying scene in them (esp if you're sensitive about dead/abused animals), but overall this collection is great. I'm still obsessing over some of the ideas. ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Eating Mammals includes three stories set in Victorian England. Bsrlow takes his good old time telling a story, which I found fairly refreshing myself. All three stories are amusing in their own way. It's not awesome reading, but pleasant, and time nicely spent if not entirely memorable. ...more
Apr 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy quirky stories that may make your tummy feel funny, this is a good read.
Jennifer Dutton
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Nov 15, 2010 rated it liked it
At times comic, at times grotesque, and at times just bizarre, Barlow's amusing novellas combine magical realism with a pseudo-Victorian writing style. Enjoyable. ...more
Katie Banasiewicz
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I did not like the first story but the second and third stories were amazing. Overall a very good book.
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Greg Giannakis
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Five stars if it hadn't been for the slightly underwhelming final story. ...more
Louise Chambers
May 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Isn't as macabre as the back cover would lead one to believe. The first one is the most difficult I think. I liked the third one very much. ...more
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the first two stories. The third story was just as well written as the first two, but I didn't find it as interesting. ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, giveaways
Christopher Murphy
May 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
A collection of humorously bizarre stories often involving curious culinary feats. Cute.
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
First story and a half were fine. The rest I don't even remember reading. I guess that's not a good thing? At least I didn't hate it. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Double Identity
  • Ishmael
  • The Passenger
  • The Warning
  • Till We Have Faces
  • Coal River
  • A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards
  • Buffalo Lockjaw
  • La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert
  • Defending Jacob
  • Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)
  • A Long Petal of the Sea
  • The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow
  • Pretending to Dance
  • Mine
  • Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe, #7)
See similar books…
John Barlow's prize-winning fiction and non-fiction has been published by HarperCollins/William Morrow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 4th Estate and various others in the UK, US, Australia, Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland.



His current project is the Joe Romano crime thriller series. The first novel, RIGHT TO KILL, is out in the UK with HQ/HarperCollins on June 24th, 2021.


John was born in Wes

Related Articles

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
149 likes · 57 comments