*** 3 - 4 MOOOOO-ving Stars ***
I think this is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to do. Deep down, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED "Cows", but on the surface, it was a bit hard to get past the shock factor!!
I was recommended this book and thought "What the Hell?" and then it was pointed out to me that it was in a genre called "Bizzaro Fiction"....so my nosey mind just had to look up what it meant and all the other books which fell into this. So picture me on a Friday at work...just adding book after book to my TBR shelf!
Bizzaro Fiction - Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive works that are as weird and entertaining as possible.
When I first picked up this book, I believed it was about a bunch of cows who turn into some type of "Zombie Apocalypse" and start killing and eating human beings. Lo and behold....I was wrong ----- but------ not so far off the mark.
Throughout the book, I kept thinking....wow...yeah, that really makes a statement....and damn.....I never thought of it that way before!!! I started copying a lot of the dialogue which really TOUCHED me...and I ended up with pages upon pages of quotes. I would LOVE to share them all with you, but alas, to get the full effect, it would be better to buy the book.
"Think whatever made it move is happy now in the fields of the hereafter?
You believe in that kind of thing? Forget it. Meat doesn't have the brains.
It just works till it dies or until someone cuts it up."
I cried - yes I did.....and then I tried explaining it to my boyfriend who just looked at me like I had 6 heads....or was that 4 stomachs?? I tried - I really tried and all I could think to compare it to was Jonathan Swift's essay "A Modest Proposal".....OK everyone - go GOOGLE that and I'll wait till you return..........
"We all have it, that dark core. It makes us men.
And if we examine it, if we can bear to hold it up to ourselves
and acknowledge it as our own, then it makes us more than men.
The slaughter room is where we become complete, boy."
Done? Remember learning that in HS or College?? This is satire - this book is one big satire that each person who reads it will come out with a different message from the person next to them. Matthew Stokoel has the ability to create a profound satire mixed in with cannibalism, bestiality, gore, sexual perversion, abuse, self mutilation. I was in awe.....
Matthew I bow before you, my almighty bovine!
Steven is our protagonist, who is 25 years old and has never left his house except from the roof and after that got too much, then from his television. From watching shows like "The Brady Bunch", "Leave it to Beaver" and other perfect family sitcoms....Steven has built a dream family - but how can he have it if he has been conditioned from birth to be scared of people and crowds from his mother, The Hagbeast. Oh.....just wait till you meet her.......
"The experience of killing. Of blowing out their brains and taking
away their most precious thing. It smashes the walls you put around
yourself, the walls other people put around you to stop you doing
what you want. Do you understand me? The things you would do
if there was nothing to stop you. Killing is an act of self-realization,
it shows a man the truth of his power. And when you know this, boy,
the pettiness they try to shackle us with falls away like shit."
You know who she reminded me of while reading this book? If you are familiar with Pink Floyd's "The Wall".....and the song "Mother".....yup...that's her - without the maternal loving.....her words to Steven is to call him "cunt" and serve him raw sheep stomach while walking around with her menstrual stains.....yeah - gets pretty descriptive.
"And what am I, you demented whore? Something you fucked up
so totally it never had a chance to make it in the world. Jesus, it's as
much as I can do to walk down the street."
Lucy.....what can I say about Lucy? She is the new tenant upstairs and Steven knows this is his only chance to have that "perfect family". Lucy is also messed up thinking everyone on earth has a poison growing inside their bodies and that is what makes them depressed and mean. She is your typical paranoid schizophrenic but do you think Steven would be able to realize that?? Hell no...cause he is just as mental as she is. The scene that sticks in my head is that Lucy asks Steven to put a sigmoid scope in her and to watch the screen to see if he can see any of the "black poison" in her bowels - while Steven is doing this he starts playing with her and then just starts screwing her with the probe in her ass. That's cake compared to the other graphic scenes in this story.
So, the book opens with Steven starting his first day at work, yup, you guessed it...he is working at the SLAUGHTERHOUSE!! Ahhhh....hah....."Send in the COWS" (clowns? cows?)
On Steven's first day we meet Gummy (yeah....we find out why Gummy doesn't have lips or teeth) and Cripps - damn Cripps.....Cripps who has this insatiable sexual fatherly taste towards Steven and gives us soooo many words of wisdom. We also almost meet a strange pair of eyes hidden behind the grate by Steven's work station.
"Killing frees you to live as you should."
The first time Cripps brings Steven into the "slaughter station" is when things get really weird - Cripps tells Steven that by using the bolt gun on the cows - it will give him strength to get what he wants and to stand up to what is bring him down (Hagbeast). Steven wants that strength to be able to kill his mother and take over their flat in order to start his family with Lucy.
Cripps continues to push Steven's boundaries in order to alleviate his own perverse sexualities - yup....they go there. At this point, the secret society of cows present themselves to Steven and ask for his help.
"Forget it....You can't kill without getting infected. It don't
have the effect Cripps says, but it gets under your skin in
other ways. We warned you."
I have to stop here or I will end up writing a novel - buy this book - follow the life of Steven and Lucy along with the herd of cows living under the city.
See how Steven is able to urbanize this herd and eventually fall in love.