From Publishers Weekly
Bradfield (Good Girl Wants It Bad
) hopes to elevate "interspecies harassment" to high art in this collection of allegorical stories, most of which have animals for protagonists. But like a dog that won't stop barking, these stories echo the same themes—of cheating men and the women who love them, the ridiculousness of academia and the inability of language to communicate our deep desires. Bradfield tries for misanthropic satire of feel-good psychology: in "Men and Women in Love," a psychotic woman tells her would-be lover, seconds before she smashes his head with a golf club, that "Some things are really
real." Told as a series of documentary interviews, "Angry Duck" mourns the passing of Sammy the duck, who shot to stardom as a poet with lines like "quack quack quack (ad infinitum)... SHUT UP!" Since "compelling natural odors are not convertible into rich text format," two clever canines electronically conspire to make their owners fall in love so that the dogs might be together forever in "Doggy Love." George Orwell's animals proclaimed "Four legs good, two legs bad"; Bradfield and his creatures seek to eradicate the "false dichotomy of humans-slash-animals," only to wind up howling at the wind.
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Bradfield's angry if accurate satirical fiction packs a brass-knuckles punch, and his humor can be nasty. Consistent in his obsessions, he brings back Dazzle the Dog, the philosophical canine introduced in Greetings from Earth
(1996), in two of this collection's funniest and most pointed short stories, one an indictment of animal behavior studies, and he also pursues his twisted fascination with murderous women, the theme of his novel, Good Girl Wants It Bad
(2004). Add to that a duck poet, a Hollywood spoof featuring Goldy and the Three Bears, and an amusing if mean--spirited and abruptly violent parody of self-help regimes and Dr. Phil. The most successful allegory, "Penguins for Lunch," charts the downfall of Whistling Pete, a penguin who succumbs to the lures of alcohol and "penguinettes," while "Doggy Love," one of the cheerier tales, uses e-mails to trace the happy results of a doggy computer-dating service. Bradfield's wily use of animal characters casts light on the absurdities of human existence, as long as his misanthropy doesn't overwhelm his wit. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved