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Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Sharp Teeth (2007)

by Toby Barlow

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7635418,455 (3.85)58
  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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» See also 58 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Barlow's free verse novel about the werewolves of L.A. may be a conceit, but I'll be damned if it isn't one that delivers.

Could this book have succeeded as a prose novel? Of course it would have, but Barlow taps into powerful imagery that emphasizes the highs and lows, gore and tenderness that would not have struck home so effectively in a more typical prose format.

I did not know what I was getting into at all with this one, I'd seen it on some year-end lists awhile back and remember it arriving and leaving the new rack at the library but hadn't picked it up. From the cover design I got the impression that it was a young adult horror book and I wasn't in the mood at the time.

If I had picked up the book and flipped through the pages before checking it out and bringing it home I might have just put it back on the shelf. A free verse novel, about werewolves?

But it works, trust me trust me trust me, it works. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
This is definitely one of the stranger books that I've picked up. Sharp Teeth is a werewolf novel, told in verse form. Imagine the old epic poetry of the Greeks, or even the ballads told in medieval times - you'll get a good idea of how this novel is told.

The epic nature, and the sheer length and subject matter of the book, had me doubting whether or not Barlow could make it work. He did. The story is worthy of the way it is told.

In the dead of night in southern California, the different packs of lycanthropes plan their games and their attacks. He details the society in a way that is surprisingly close to how wolves tend to operate; he brings werewolves into the twenty first century, and more than that, keeps them true to the old myths as well. It's a fascinating story, well told, and with wholly believable characters. In particular, I liked the way he handled female werewolves - a topic rarely touched upon well in modern horror literature. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Have you seen this book? Because it's freakin' awesome!
It's about werewolves. In love. In Los Angeles.
Told in verse. No, really. In verse.
It doesn't, not even for one moment, descend into god-awful "paranormal romance" bullshit.
Werewolves! Love! Verse! LA! ( )
  MsMaison | Dec 5, 2017 |
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 |
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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
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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