A young congressman discovers a mysterious stuffed aardvark on his doorstep and sets out on a journey to find out what it means in this "weird, wonderful" novel about the secrets we keep from ourselves and their history-shaping consequences (Esquire).
It's early one morning on a hot day in August, and millennial congressman Alexander Paine Wilson (R), planning his first reelection campaign and in deep denial about his sexuality, receives a mysterious, over-sized FedEx delivery on his front stoop. Inside is a gigantic taxidermied aardvark.
This outrageous, edge-of-your-seat novel hurtles between contemporary Washington, D.C., where Wilson tries to get rid of the unsightly beast before it destroys his career, and Victorian England--where we meet Titus Downing, the taxidermist who stuffed the aardvark, and Richard Ostlet, the naturalist who hunted her. Our present world, we begin to see, has been shaped in profound and disturbing ways by the secret that binds these men.
At once a ghost story, a love story, and a stunningly prescient political satire, Enter the Aardvark confronts the consequences of repressed male love meeting oppressive male power, and is a searing condemnation of our current American blindness. It is also that rarest of creatures: a work of art so utterly original and masterfully built that it seems to have spring fully formed from its visionary maker's head.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Politics are far from a laughing matter these days, but Jessica Anthony’s irreverent and unabashedly weird novel pokes fun at the toxic hypocrisy of current-day Washington. This wacky story involves a stuffed aardvark that takes a circuitous route from the workshop of a reclusive taxidermist in Victorian England to the bachelor-pad town house of a cocky Republican congressman with a big secret to hide. Shifting between these two men’s stories, Enter the Aardvark explores closeted gay love, human vindictiveness, and the natural history of an odd African mammal. It’s a fast, entertaining read that definitely fits the bill for anyone looking for something different.
Anthony (The Convalescent) stitches together stories from repressive Victorian England and venal contemporary American politics in this marvelous, tragic farce populated by characters uncomfortable in their own skin. In Namibia, 1875, naturalist Sir Richard Ostet sends an aardvark specimen back to England to be stuffed by his friend and love interest, taxidermist Titus Downing, whose unparalleled creations are famed for how the artist captures each animal's jiva, or the "immortal life-essence of each living being." After Downing's uncanny aardvark shows up on the doorstep of U.S. Congressman Alexander Paine Wilson in present-day D.C., the press digs into its past owners, including Hermann Goring's father, and its presumed sender, Wilson's secret male lover, triggering a career-threatening scandal for Wilson, an ambitious, Ronald Reagan obsessed Republican who proudly wields a "0" rating from the ACLU. Anthony alternates between the congressman's travails and Downing's taxidermic preparations, which reveal the hidden beauty within the creature's "appalling morphology." While the overly broad satirical portrait of Wilson detracts from his plotline's emotional resonance, the novel's smooth comic machinery builds toward a satisfying climax that reveals how the aardvark's history bears on the congressman's present. This idiosyncratic satire is full of wonders and warnings.