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Mongrels: A Novel by Stephen Graham Jones

Mongrels: A Novel (2016)

by Stephen Graham Jones

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This is a coming-of-age story, except in this case the boy is becoming not a man, but a werewolf. The unnamed narrator lives a nomadic life with his aunt and uncle (his parents are dead), who are both werewolves. They crisscross the South, moving on when their nocturnal activities threaten to catch someone's attention. This is a modern take on the werewolf legend, which expounds on some classic tropes (such as an aversion to silver) but also creates an entire subculture and history of the shapeshifters. Unusual and well worth reading. ( )
  sturlington | Dec 6, 2018 |
Holy shit, man, this was so good. The ending's a punch in the chest, too. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
3.5 stars. In Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones introduces us to a family of werewolf drifters, who are sometimes even grifters. But the con is that they roam the outskirts of town to find fresh kill (and sometimes - eww - roadkill) and never keep a car longer than a month or maybe two. Or is it the truth and not a con?

The narrator is the youngest member of the family, a boy who tells the stories in a haphazard, not very chronological order, as young boys will. We never learn his name, but we certainly learn his hopes and dreams. And they all center around whether he's a werewolf too. According to his aunt and uncle, who raise him, werewolves don't turn the first time until they're at least eight years old, or sometimes older. And this kid is waiting with bated breath.

A lot of Mongrels is a bildungsroman tale, with a werewolf twist. The kid's uncle is an irresponsible (make that irrepressible) werewolf, always getting in trouble. The constant need to bail him out is a tale told often with addiction at its core. In this case, the addiction is running loose and killing deer or something weirder for food. So there's a lot that's familiar here. But Jones tells a fresh and unpredictable take on the rough life this family leads. Their crises are original, as are their solutions.

The writing is fresh, funny, and paced like an easy run with a few great hills. Each character is given their part in the stories, so we get to know and care about the family. It's a crackin' good twist on werewolf tales! ( )
1 vote TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
SFF, Paranormal, Werewolves, Audio, TBR2016, AlphaKit, AuthorJ, ROOT2018 ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Feb 12, 2018 |
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

If you think the literary genera lupus literarus has been done, and done, and done into the ground it’s only because you haven’t seen what Stephen Graham Jones’s has to say about lycanthropy. Part fable, part coming-of-age story, his new novel, Mongrels, brings grim humor and a violent beauty to the semi-hallucinatory terrain occupied by America’s transitory underclass.

Always on the outside, constantly on the run, Jones’s “mongrels” dwell in a sort of socioeconomic half-light. Their lives spent in the shadows cast by low-rent shanties and broken down cars, their identities informed by war between day and night, civilization and nature; this is the mythology of the werewolf twisted, reformed to become more modern, more relatable as both myth and metaphor. In muscular prose that seems always to be thinking ahead, searching for more, Jones explores America’s relationship with its poor like he’s dissecting a predatory brotherhood between hunter and hunted.

There’s long been an idea that true magical realism can only be born of the economic hardships and totalitarian governments masters like Garcia Marquez and Kundera endured in the less-developed world. The concept has been “the First World” doesn’t know enough pain to write honest magical realism. Jones stands that theory on its head, at least as it relates to America’s oppressed. In Mongrels you hear the echoes of Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. You see the desperate magic of a world constructed as an antidote to this one.

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/kbaumeister/2016/06/the-nervous-breakdowns-re... ( )
  kurtbaumeister | Oct 24, 2017 |
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Eventually I went to America. There no one believes in werewolves. - James Blish
Thea Lucas 1914-1999 thanks, Pop
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My grandfather used to tell me he was a werewolf.
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Poor yet resilient, the boy lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. Always on the move across the South, living a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes, one step ahead of the law. But everything is about to change. The boy will be turning sixteen, and he will need to understand his family and his place in the world. A world that shuns and fears werewolves.… (more)

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