The Book of Dog

Lark Benobi Vegetablian Press (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $15.95 (214pp), 978-0-9996546-1-3

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - NANCY POW­ELL

Lark Benobi un­abashedly takes on mod­ern pol­i­tics in all its bes­tial mad­ness in The Book of Dog, cel­e­brat­ing the joys of wom­an­hood, diver­sity, and the won­ders of na­ture.

The apoc­a­lypse ar­rives in Cal­i­for­nia via a yel­low puff­ball mush­room cloud. Code-named Agent-t, the cloud turns women into beasts and men into con­ser­va­tive and re­li­gious fa­nat­ics.

On the same day, a preg­nant teenager, Stella, runs away to find Lix Te­trax, her baby’s fa­ther— al­ter­na­tively known by the names Lu­cifer, The Ruler of the Free World, and the seven-headed beast. Stella be­friends five women-turned­beasts along the way: the phys­i­cally de­formed Margie; a down-on-her-luck waitress, Wanda; a ma­rine of­fi­cer, Eureka; an un­doc­u­mented care­taker, Mary; and the poverty-stricken Jose­fina. To­gether, they at­tempt to stop the seven-headed beast from en­act­ing his ma­li­cious agenda.

The story is told from the al­ter­nat­ing view­points of the six women. Their ori­gin sto­ries arise from so­cial, eco­nomic, re­li­gious, or cul­tural griev­ances that play a sig­nif­i­cant role in their bes­tial trans­for­ma­tions and serve as clev­erly con­structed metaphors for cur­rent af­fairs. Re­li­gious im­agery of an­gels and beasts rep­re­sents the di­vid­ing du­al­ity of pol­i­tics.

The story, which be­gins in verse, flows ef­fort­lessly with con­cise writ­ing and comedic lyri­cism. Short sen­tences are in­ter­spersed with longer, stream-of-con­scious­ness pas­sages from the char­ac­ters in their an­i­mal forms.

Sim­ple, child­like sketches add to the fan­tas­ti­cal am­biance, pro­vid­ing clues to each woman’s trans­for­ma­tion. De­pic­tions of Stella in free-flow­ing, form-fit­ting, belly-bar­ing t-shirts sub­tly de­liver a mes­sage about male dom­i­na­tion and male chau­vin­ism.

The Book of Dog may be a crazy kitchen-sink satire of mod­ern pol­i­tics, but it is also a tri­umphant tale about marginal­ized peo­ple who work to­gether to ef­fect the greater good.

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