- € 9,49
Three wonderfully original, linked novellas based on true stories from the winner of the Paris Review's Discovery Award. A new voice from Yorkshire, John Barlow has been compared to Michel Faber and T.C. Boyle. This is his first book.
A winged cat wreaks havoc in a Yorkshire workhouse. An autumnal romance between two pork pie makers is celebrated with a donkey wedding. The strange career of Michael 'Cast Iron' Mulligan is revealed by his unlucky apprentice Captain Gusto, both men who eat – and eat anything – for a living. These are the stories that mark the debut of one of fiction's most original and assured new voices. And, remarkably, they all are based on fact.
Gypsies, Victorian businessmen, servants, masters and unwise children come together in three gothic and moving novellas of magic and deception. Largely set in the nineteenth century, they combine the satisfactions of the finest novels with a playfulness that does not forfeit humanity. With the comic sensibility of Dickens and a taste for the macabre worthy of Irvine Welsh, John Barlow is a storyteller with a unique imagination who will continue to amaze and entertain us for many years to come.
‘Eating Mammals will make you laugh, groan, retch, and ultimately be uplifted … The world is a stranger and therefore better place now that Eating Mammals is in it.’
‘Each of the novellas is fascinated by the rich taste of story, by the sheer industry that story stokes, and by the work that story does in staving off despair, starvation and ignominy.’
Times Literary Supplement
About the author
John Barlow teaches at the University of York but still prefers to live in Hull. He hopes soon to divide his time between Spain and the North. This is his first book.
Briton Barlow delivers a delightfully gothic, witty and sometimes macabre trio of novellas, each based on an apparently authentic historical oddity. The title piece, for which Barlow earned a Paris Review Discovery Prize, takes place just after the Second World War and concerns a breakfast chef taken in by Michael "Cast Iron" Mulligan, an enormous, worldly Irishman who will eat anything (worms, chairs, brass plaques) for a price. Dubbed Captain Gusto by his mentor and charged with grinding up the stuff for Mulligan to eat the chef later decides to follow in Mulligan's footsteps, with disastrous results. The second novella gleefully chronicles the trials of various Victorian English villagers after the birth of a winged kitten in their local workhouse. Fortunes are won and lost as Thomas-Bessie (" 'cos we didn't know if it were a boy or a girl") minds its own business amid all the attention, and various citizens go mad and chaos reigns. In "The Donkey Wedding at Gomersal," an endearing fable of midlife romance in rural 1850s England, a widow and a widower discover love together while doing a brilliant business in pork pies. Barlow's observant, chatty and sometimes playfully starchy prose perfectly complements his weird tales; this is a idiosyncratic and memorable collection.