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Review-a-Day
Esquire
Wednesday, January 4th, 2006


 

Kornwolf

by Tristan Egolf

A Poem to the Honky Tundra

A review by Anna Godbersen

Werewolf stories often come with winks to adolescent growing pains, and Tristan Egolf's cheeky/goth/bizarro take Kornwolf does not stint on winks. The wolf in question, just for starters, hails from the town of Blue Ball, and other place-names in his orbit include the towns of Lamepeter, Laycock and Intercourse. He is also an Amish in Rumspringa, motherless, mute, and seriously pissed at his father, and, though he doesn't know it yet, Ephraim Bontrager has a dark family legacy that traces back to Europe during the wars of religion. And he has a burgeoning interest in Slayer. Also with unresolved man/boy issues is Owen Brynmor, a prodigal son and decent but only quasi-employable reporter, who has returned to "Pennsyltucky Dutch" country to pursue his longtime boxing obsession at the West Side Gym. Enter disaffected white dude number three, Jack "The Coach" Stumpf, who has a mysterious interest in the werewolf rumors, which Owen, to his irritation, has blown from a News of the Weird-type story to full-fledged community hysteria. (Owen, almost as an afterthought, has signed on as a freelance city reporter for the Stepford Daily Plea, where he is blowing up.)

Egolf (who committed suicide last year) does a hilarious job with the small town landscape, the "honky tundra," with its housing developments, Sprawl Marts, and faux-Amish tourist traps. He writes in manic, pungent sentences; his wolf's odor, for instance, is a "haze of limburger, garbage and rotting entrails." Kornwolf, with its full cast of characters and caricatures, its wonderfully overwrought plot, and its sardonic exuberance (if such a thing were possible), has all the makings of a cult favorite. It is, in a word, awesome.


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