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Hot Animal Love: Tales of Modern Romance Paperback – July 27, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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 Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (July 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786715766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786715763
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Scott Bradfield is a satirical writer whose favorite theme -- that people (and talking critters) are their own worst enemies -- gets a workout over the course of thirteen stories built on irresistable hooks. "Doggy Love" is told in the form of e-mails exchanged between frustrated lovers on a computer dating service for dogs, interrupted by stray (pun intended) missives from a Russian pornographer, an Asian golddigger, and a perverted cat. "Penguins for Lunch" follows serial philanderer Whistling Pete into the heart of darkness, namely the room at the Crystal Palace Motel used for his regular lunch hour trysts. Dazzle, the world's smartest dog, tries to accept the limits of his less-intellectually-endowed canine family in a utopian community in the woods, and in a later story, has to outwit a team of UCLA researchers, where he's being tortured in the name of science. In the best of the stories, "[Pig] Paradise" speciesist tensions between wolf and pig neighbors escalate into a horrific climax, followed by an ending that's tragic because it suggests that both hope and hatred are equally reflexive actions.

Bradfield isn't a subtle writer, and his characters' epiphanies come off more as barroom philosophizing than psychological insight. Bradfield's work at first reminded me of the sort of satirical tales Bruce Jay Friedman was writing in the '60s, and the absurdist scenarios that were Donald Barthelme's specialty, but on picking up Sixty Stories (Penguin Classics) again for the first time in years, I was struck by just how much psychological depth Barthelme gave his "throwaway" characters, and how little Bradfield's have to fall back on by contrast.
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Format: Paperback
Satire in the great tradition delivered with wicked relish. My only gripe is that the last story, a kind of less schematic modern-day Animal Farm, is left open-ended - or am I missing something here? Delicious anyway - up there with Lydia Millet's Infant Monkeys - and I can see I'm going to have to read it all over again. [Can David Sedaris's chipmunk possibly compete? I'll find out..] And I did like fellow reviewer Roochak's categorisation of it as mixing entertainment with gloom - add in some doom and that's what I go for..
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