Friday, March 3, 2017

Holy Cow by David Duchovny

Author: David Duchovny
Original title: Holy Cow
Pages: 274
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Format: Kindle Edition
Genres: Humor, Animals, Contemporary

     Elsie Bovary is a cow, and a pretty happy one at that-her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighboring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a TV and it reveals about something called an "industrial meat farm" shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core. There's only one solution: escape to a better, safer world.

My thoughts: 
     Holy Cow follows a young cow who learns the truth about ‘meat farms’, and decides to move to India where she won’t be eaten. She is joined by her friend Tom the Turkey, who wants to go to Turkey, and a pig called Shalom, who has recently converted to the Jewish faith and decides to move to Israel.
      It is a very visual story that you can read in a couple of hours and I kind of liked Elsie’s sassy, witty voice. She was a likeable character, but mostly when she was being serious. The book seems like a serious satire highlighting the injustices in our world and the interspecies prejudices that animals face – an allegory for racism.
     Duchovny makes a lot of good points about life through the eyes of Elsie, a cow who dreams of and sets out to travel the world in search of a better life. Life can be pretty awful in some ways, but every place has its roses and warts.
The Box God was talking to people. I could tell because of their obedient quiet and the flickering of the light. If you people think lambs are silent, check yourselves out while you're praying to the Box God - passive and drooling. p.89
          Duchovny through the eyes of Elsie speculates on many “hot” topics like religion, racism, ethical injustice, etc., but does it gently, without any preaching, just as a matter of fact. 
“Do you really think it helps to fight hatred with hatred?” I asked him. 
“I’m not fighting hatred with hatred, I’m fighting hatred with ignorance – it’s a fine distinction. This is how it’s done in this part of the world, each side plays their part like actor.” p.219
        The same way he deals with social topics: peer pressure, public opinion, mass media dependence, self-understanding. It is done in a subtle way: two or three sentences and you are left thinking about the subject. In this I must say I agree, that we are too deep in our fears about our roles and obligations in the society, maybe we need to keep it easy and enjoy the life.
        It was then I realized that humans were very complicated and confused and I could spend the rest of life puzzling them out. I decided I didn’t have time to do that. I would spend the few years I had left on this planet trying to figure myself out, trying to figure out the mind of the cow, and if there was anything left over, then maybe, maybe, I’d think about humans again.  p.94
        On the other hand, the book was slow paste I was truly glad it was only 250 pages or so. Firstly, when I was thinking how to describe the book better, I had this idea: Holy Cow is 20% a children’s book (plot), 30% text book from my English Stylistics course (style) 30% pop culture guide and 20% humor (dialogues). I just didn’t quite get where this book was going. If I had this book when I was studying English Stylistics I would have all possible examples in one place – that would save me so much time. But this is not a text book. This is fiction and really sometimes it was too much of those figures of speech, allusions, puns, hyperbolas, periphrases, oxymoron, metaphors and metonymies. Some were quite successful; others were a bit tiresome and excessive. 
...You can't just wear the food chain around your neck like a bauble or necklace. You're part of it and if you keep treating it with disdain, that chain will strangle you. p.110
I did enjoy the read – it is clever, amusing and thought provoking, but this entire book felt messy and sadly the moral of the story was pretty much hidden behind all the ‘humor’.


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