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Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
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Sharp Teeth (2007)

by Toby Barlow

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7185113,105 (3.88)57
  1. 10
    Bottomfeeder by Bob Fingerman (Sethgsamuel)
  2. 00
    City of Thieves by David Benioff (grouchylibrarian)
    grouchylibrarian: I read these at the same time and loved them both. Both novels have a nice edge to them, are well-paced and have engaging stories.
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DO NOT be put off by the verse structure--I'm not a poetry aficionado in the least-- but this bold experiment works!

Barlow's epic resonates Homer's Iliad, noir crime, urban fantasy, and the above mentioned McCarthy, Delillo.

A plausible world of werewolf gangs struggling to live amongst the masses of LA. SHARP TEETH isn't just horror-fare, it recasts humanity's desires and failings against the meaning of 'pack' loyalty, craven urges, feral vs. civilized, love and power. And it has some of the best prose I've read all year; a jazzy, gritty ambling narrative voice that's exciting to behold.

"Perhaps being free of language is a blessing for dogs.
'Why do you say that? Why do you always have to hurt me?'
Since dogs aren't continually surprised when
those soft and easily broken tools called words
fail them [humans] time and again.
'I love you.'
Words, those simple clumsy clay blocks
that one hopes will support such enormous walls.
'I do, I love you.'
Words, the small weak things
that come tumbling out of men. "

Recommended soundtrack: NIRVANA "Incesticide" ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
Loved this. It's like nothing else I've ever read. Not sure it needed to be in free verse, but somehow the staccato line structure fits. He addresses both the idea for the story and the structure he created in an interview included at the end of Harper Perennial's 2009 trade paperback edition.

"A few years ago, while I was on a long tour of duty in Chicago ..., I came across a portrait of a local dogcatcher in the Chicago Reader. It was a great piece, really vivid and rich. In it, the dogcatcher mentioned that packs usually revolve around one female dog. I was struck by that particular detail: if werewolf packs were organized by the same principle, and if the dogcatcher fell in love with the female wolf, I thought, that would make for an interesting premise for a novel.

My initial intention was to try to write something that felt more open, that invited people into the story—a form in which the words worked more like crumbs of bread drawing you through the tale. And once I got going, the style really seemed to fit the nature of the novel. The mystery at the book's core was sort of hard-boiled, so a terse rhythm felt appropriate. In a way, I suppose I just wanted to write an adventure for the ADD generation, a novel propelled by energy and momentum. And the fact that I was writing about altered beasts seemed to marry well to an altered style of language."

Works for me. Also rather nifty that Barlow lives in my neighborhood. Cool. ( )
  mpho3 | May 17, 2015 |
A quick read and an interesting revision/interpretation of the werewolf genre. While at first Sharp Teeth may seem contrived, between the "werewolf" tag and the unique format of the writing it's hard not to infer a gimmick, but through the depth of the novel proves these early notions incorrect and ultimately quite satisfying. While not mind-blowing by any stretch, this is an impressive debut novel from Barlow and possibly a perfect summer read. ( )
  ben.digman | May 22, 2014 |
A werewolf story told in verse. It was fun to read but something were a bit more difficult to "get" due to the form. ( )
  sumik | Jul 18, 2013 |
At first I was put off by the novel in verse, the "Ovid-meets-Marvel" hype on the back, and the LA-ness of it all, but then I relaxed and enjoyed it. Though, like so much mainstream writing (and the NYT Science Times), this book has some really idiotic pop-Darwin ideas about gender and sexuality. Yawn. Still, werewolves are always interesting. ( )
  anderlawlor | Apr 9, 2013 |
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Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. -- Robert Frost
There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism. -- Walter Benjamin
His hair was perfect. -- Warren Zevon
Dedication
First words
Let's sing about the man there / at the breakfast table / brown skin, thin features, white T,/ his olive hand making endless circles / in the classifieds / "wanted" "wanted" "wanted" / small jobs little money / but you have to start somewhere.
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Book description
An ancient race of lycanthropes survives in modern LA and its numbers are growing as packs convert the city's downtrodden into their fold. Stuck in the middle are a local dogcatcher and the woman he loves, whose secret past haunts her as she fights a bloody one-woman battle to save their relationship. Meanwhile, dog packs fight and scheme all around the them, hiding out in old warehouses, city kennel cages, or the plush comfort of suburban homes. Paying no heed to the moon, these packs change from human to wolf at will, squaring off against one another as they seek dominance at any cost. Sharp Teeth is a novel-in-verse that blends epic themes with dark humour, dogs playing cards, crystal meth labs, and acts of heartache and betrayal in Southern California.
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"An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will--and they're bent on domination at any cost. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results"--Publisher.… (more)

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