(Reviewed by JD Jung)
“I don’t want to be weak. I want to have a voice like everyone else…Without a voice, I am nothing.”
That’s how many of us feel. However for some, this sentiment is monumental.
Take John, for instance. He was a twenty-three year old anarchist who was writing a guide to the Great American Wildlife along with a plan to free animals from two New York Zoos and a circus. He was obsessed with Felicity, a twenty- six year old trust-fund kid from England who was trying to escape her privileged past by working at a New York animal shelter. John introduced Felicity to Willow’s diary- the other woman in his life- who grew up in the Georgia wilderness and was “electively mute” for most of her childhood. Needless to say, she needed a voice.
If that wasn’t strange enough, John’s Ota Benga Society–named after a pygmy who was displayed in the Bronx zoo—was planning this rebellion along with others seeking a voice. Felicity, with her PETA leanings was drawn into this organization. In the society John used characters from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, like Lord Hate-Good. (Yes, I did a lot of googling while reading this book.)
Too weird for you? Let me tell you this…
It took me awhile to get into the story, but I’m sure glad that I hung in there. The conclusion is stated near the beginning, but it’s the voyage that gives the big payoff. Also there are major twists that each reader will discover at different times and points of the story. Even though I figured them out before they were actually revealed, it was well worth every minute of my time.
Though Canterel has a talent for giving his characters such unique voices, he also used different fonts and prints to explore each of them.
I admit I love the dark and bizarre, like Canterel’s first novel, The Jolly Coroner. For those of you who also do, Bunyan’s Guide To The Great American Wildlife is for you. Though it’s a lot different than The Jolly Coroner, it tells me that there’s a lot in Canterel’s head, and I can’t wait to read his next novel.