Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt

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9780802136725: Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt
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A literary sensation published to outstanding accolades in America and around the world, Lord of the Barnyard was one of the most auspicious fiction debuts of recent years. Now available in paperback, Tristan Egolf's manic, inventive, and painfully funny debut novel is the story of a town's dirty laundry -- and a garbagemen's strike that lets it all hang out. Lord of the Barnyard begins with the death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased-pig chase at a funeral in the modern-day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, and a lone tornado, as well as appearances by a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional poultry plant, and one autodidact goat-roping farm boy by the name of John Kaltenbrunner. Lord of the Barnyard is a brilliantly comic tapestry of a Middle America still populated by river rats and assembly-line poultry killers, measuring into shot glasses the fruits of years of quiet desperation on the factory floor. Unforgettable and linguistically dizzying, it goes much farther than postal.

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Review:

Tristan Egolf's first novel is an unsparing view of life in a town where inbred Appalachia and Middle America overlap and intermingle. John Kaltenbrunner, an only child, is born on the heels of his father's death. At an unusually early age, the boy shows a flair for farming and a desire to be left alone, two things that make people pick on him in increasingly vicious ways. John's life plan is to drop out of school when he hits 16 and mind his own business. But he loses everything, alienates everyone, and through a series of increasingly outrageous mishaps winds up serving three years work-release felony time on a river barge. When he comes home to Baker, no one recognizes him:

John had expected, maybe even hoped for, a little something more to herald his arrival--some burning crosses or lynch mobs on the lawn, a coven of Methodists to picket his re-entry, a banner-wielding committee from the school board, anything at all. But to his disbelief, he found the streets quiet and empty.
The streets don't stay that way for long as the tale truly turns on the garbage strike organized by John and his gang of fellow misfits. As a result, Baker comes apart at the seams and all the citizenry reveal their true natures. In his singular debut, Tristan Egolf demonstrates an unschooled flair for storytelling, which earned him accolades--and even a comparison to Céline--when the novel was published in France. True, his characters are cutouts with few surprises, including dialogue (there isn't any). But there is plenty of room in these pages to admire a wild and imaginative look at a slice of life cut from the underbelly of Middle America. --Schuyler Engle

From the Back Cover:

Tristan Egolf is a young writer of astonishing prowess and imagination, already the subject of one of the most intriguing publishing stories of recent years. Rejected by form letter by over seventy U.S. publishers, he was discovered busking to pay his rent on the Pont des Arts in Paris. Since then, he has gone on to win high praise all over the world, being placed in such august company as William Faulkner, Lawrence Norfolk, J. P. Donleavy, Thomas Pynchon, and John Kennedy Toole. His debut novel, Lord of the Barnyard, has been hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as "a harsh, strange brew, disarming in its rich-ness" and "a fecund and captivating work, distinguished by its color, exuberance, cohesion and inventiveness." It is the manic, painfully funny story of a town's dirty laundry and a garbagemen's strike that lets it all hang out.

Lord of the Barnyard begins with the death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased-pig chase at a funeral in the modern-day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, a lone tornado, a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional poultry plant, and one autodidact goat-roping farm boy by the name of John Kaltenbrunner.

Lord of the Barnyard is a brilliantly comic tapestry of a Middle America populated by assembly-line drones and poultry-plant neck-slicers, measuring into shot glasses the fruits of years of quiet desperation on the factory floor. It is a plea for nothing more than the minimal respect owed to the most forgotten blue-collar workers of the global proletariat, and a word of warning that respect denied can go much farther than postal. An unforgettable story delivered at dizzy heights of linguistic invention, Lord of the Barnyard introduces a new, uniquely American literary voice who has already won acclaim around the world.

"A monumental debut novel . . . joins the ranks of other master-plots of the whimsical and absurd. Egolf's storytelling is compelling, and his rich palette of similes and metaphors makes this an entertaining and disturbing portrait of small-town America."-Library Journal (starred review)

"A wild ride of a book ...possessed of a manic, epic energy . . . robust and intoxicating prose."-Publishers Weekly

"A wonderfully strange book . . . carrying a large amount of thematic freight. There are shades of Pynchon and Lawrence Norfolk, but Egolf's world is stamped with his own vision. It is a torrential, frenzied and giddy world . . . achingly funny and tragic."-Literary Review (London)

"A work of substance, significance and originality . . . its pages reverberate with mutant sociolects, odd concatenations, myth, drama and a ludic zest . . . it owes a discernible debt to Steinbeck and Faulkner, a more palpable one to John Kennedy Toole." -The Times Literary Supplement (London)

"Sometimes comical, sometimes tragical, but always intense."-De Morgen (Belgium)

"This astonishing first novel by an American author introduces a singular new literary voice who is lord of his own universe. Lord of the Barnyard is a novel that, from the beginning, aims for the marrow." -El Pais (Spain)

"A sensational debut . . . the most remarkable novel I read this year." -NRC Handelsblad (The Netherlands)

"Homeric,hallucinatory. . . a Biblical apocalypse orchestrated by a rene- gade that could have come straight out of a novel by Cline . . . A revelation." -Cosmopolitan (France)

"AN OUTRAGEOUS, LYRICAL, JUBILANT EPIC. . . Without question, in Egolf's soul one can detect the spirit of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, J. P. Donleavy's iconoclastic Ginger Man, Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, and John Kennedy Toole's big comic imbecile of oedipal fury . . . Lord of the Barnyard is a tornado of almost Biblical proportion."-Le Monde (France)

"In a vocabulary that is image-rich, imaginative, invented, twisted, a luxuriant prose, crazy like a river in flood, the legend of John Kaltenbrunner carries us all on his journey and leaves us, at the end of the story, buzzing and entranced to have made the acquaintance . . . of a great new future for American literature."-Le Figaro (France)

Tristan Egolf was born in 1971. Having dropped out of college to play in a punk band, he traveled around the country and lived for a time in an Indiana coal town on the Kentucky border. He began writing Lord of the Barnyard while busking around Europe. Tristan Egolf now lives in New York City.

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