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Monday, September 27, 2004

The Goose Way path as instruction 

What do Animal Farm, Watership Down and The Handmaid's Tale have in common? They were all, most likely, devoured by John Barlow British author of Eating Mammals. In his new collection of 3 novella's Barlow uses a Wives Tale strategy to instruct through motif the ways of man in crafting his complex relationship to animals.

Sometimes political, at other times with child-like wonder Barlow confuses our senses, already atrophied by a potent disinformation campaign regarding human as animal, with three tales of human/animal interaction. The author uses a mirror of mysticism and folklore to lead us to a bizarre conclusion; we are what we eat.

In his first offering of the trilogy Eating Mammals Barlow sends us chasing after a post war, 20th century quest for fame and fortune ala Barnum Baily and the age of man as moral imperator regarding all that is base, shocking and sub-human. Human, after all, is politic and politic is social; it is not who you are in life but rather what you do that defines our humanity.

The Possession of Thomas-Bessie is the second tale in which a kitten is born with a magical accessory, wings and the community of pious and easily led turn to self destructive behavior denying any kinship with the kitten and each other yet craving it more than the anonymity they so wearily eschew. Barlow reminds our mythic side of the shared experience we have with all other creatures.

The last of Barlow's triptych is The Donkey Wedding at Gomersal a fable of instruction and a far reach to understanding in the sense that the goose way is our folkloric path to the fair. We follow the footsteps of those who go before us and the festival is sure to astonish.


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