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Sharp Teethby Toby Barlow
"Every aspect of the book, from premise to form to cover design (black stylized dog snarling against a solid bloodred field), seems to have been focus-grouped to snag the attention of potential readers. It's encrusted in cognitive fishhooks. Even its epigraphs are brilliantly addictive....Such eager primping is not necessarily a bad thing." Sam Anderson, New York Magazine (read the entire New York Magazine review)
Synopses & Reviews
An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will — and they're bent on domination at any cost.
Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results.
Blending dark humor and epic themes with card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing, and carne asada tacos, Sharp Teeth captures the pace and feel of a graphic novel while remaining "as ambitious as any literary novel, because underneath all that fur, it's about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about" (Nick Hornby, The Believer).
"Barlow's gut-wrenching, sexy debut, a horror thriller in verse, follows three packs of feral dogs in East L.A. These creatures are in fact werewolves, men and women who can change into canine form at will ('Dog or wolf? More like one than the other/ but neither exactly'). Lark, the top dog in one of the packs who's a lawyer in human form, has a master plan that may involve taking over the city from the regular humans. Anthony Silvo, a dogcatcher and normally a loner, finds himself falling in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman ('Standing on four legs in her fur,/ she is her own brand of beast'). A strange small man and his giant partner play tournament bridge and are deep into the drug trade. A detective, Peabody, investigates several puzzling dog-related murders. The irregular verse form with its narrative economies proves an excellent vehicle to support all these disparate threads and then tie them together in the bittersweet conclusion. 5-city author tour. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Written in a free verse style that perfectly complements the action as it moves from slower-paced narratives to short, jagged scenes of graphic violence and heartbreak, this groundbreaking work commands attention from a wide audience." Library Journal
"Though the free-verse form takes getting used to, it serves to heighten Barlow's visceral imagery. A refreshing leap across genres." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] kooky combo of grit, goofiness and gusto....[It] demonstrates that fantasy, unlike more literary offerings that play it too safe, may just be the place to find true exuberance and stylistic innovation." The Los Angeles Times
"Tremendous....As ambitious as any literary novel, because underneath all that fur, it's about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about." Nick Hornby, The Believer
"A sexy, dark and (well, yes) biting story told by a wizard of sleight of hand." Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and What-the-Dickens
"I'm impressed. I always knew stuff like this was going on in L.A. What a cool book!" Christopher Moore, bestselling author of A Dirty Job and You Suck: A Love Story
"If Ovid had been raised on a steady diet of Marvel Comics, Roger Corman and MTV, he might've written something like Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth." Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan
"[A] new take on both the werewolf and urban fantasy genres. In a world where innovation is often shunted before ever being given its due, rare examples such as this should be congratulated for their daring." BookReporter.com
Four separate generations of nameless characters struggle for redemption, love, and peace in a lyrically weaved collection of stories.
An anonymous cast spans four generations in the struggle for redemption, love, and peace. An immigrant cobbler sees his son wrongly arrested by a man who shines his shoes. The memory of a boy’s deceased mother is betrayed when his friend use her makeup as gag. A waitress secretly admires a man who atones for his troubled past by refurbishing a house. And a man laments his lost love by tracing her footsteps across the floors of his empty apartment. A storm looms, bringing the stories together across time and place, uniting them all by their common humanity. These intense portraits are packed with intelligent Christian allegory and lyricism that work together to culminate in one bright mosaic picture.
Capturing the pace and feel of a graphic novel, this spellbinding debut blends dark humor and epic themes with card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing, and carne asada tacos.
About the Author
Toby Barlow is executive creative director at the advertising agency JWT in Detroit and a contributor to the literary magazine n+1 and the Huffington Post. He splits his time between Detroit, Michigan, and New York City. Sharp Teeth is his first book.
Table of Contents
I A Trip to the Graveyard
II Footsteps Upstairs
III The Church and Military Monuments in the Town
IV The Shoe Man
V A Picture Found in the Salvation Army
VI Man Looks too Long into a Window
VII Building Ourselves Devotion
VIII Reaching Out to Touch the Old Ramparts
IX Consuming Romance (The Hypnotist)
X The Already-Criminal
XI Time Spent as a Picture upon a Shelf
XII An Afternoon Game
XIII A Man Buys a House
XIV The Waitress and the Secret Box
XV A Tendency of Staring at the Storm Drain
II Train Platform
III The Artist is Human
IV Aria Night
VI The Harbormaster
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