The God of Animals

Whenever I’m in a book store, I try to pick up three or four novels by writers I’ve never read. It’s a gamble, but it often pays off: It’s how I discovered, most recently, Joe Meno, Anya Ulinich, Abigail Thomas, and Muriel Barbery. And now there’s Aryn Kyle and her fine first novel, The God of Animals.

It’s a heartbreaking book, narrated by a twelve-year-old on a horse farm in the Colorado desert. In the world Kyle creates, loneliness and cruelty weave between humans and horses, so that the beings who love each other are separated, left alone or forced to do with hopeless surrogates, and those who live together live in violence. The novel is both beautifully composed and hard to take.

Plus, there’s a lot of animal cruelty. On Kyle’s horse farm, at least, the best-case scenario for a horse is that it lives in a barn stall, separated from its family, rarely exercised. The worst-case scenario is that it is “broken” through multiple physical and psychological abuses, lives in a small pen open to the extreme elements, and is brutally killed in a fit of human anger.

So here’s an irony. On the book’s back page, under suggestions to “Enhance Your Book Club”:

3. Take your book club on the road and spend a weekend on a working horse farm.

Yeesh. Copywriter didn’t read the novel.

One Response to “The God of Animals”

Leave a Reply