Book Review | Etre the Cow
I’m going to start this review by being completely candid – usually I choose to read and review a book because I’m interested in the subject or because I have read other books by the same author and I have enjoyed them. This book marks the first time in my life when I’ve chosen to read a book because I recognized the author for something completely unrelated to his writing.
I decided to read this book when I read that the author was Dr. Sean Kenniff. Those of you who, like me, love reality tv (it’s okay to admit you love reality tv) might recognize “Dr. Sean” as one of the contestants on the original series of Survivor. Nope – I’m not kidding! I have many fond memories of Sean from Survivor so that made me decide to read his book.
Etre the Cow is a novella about a bull named Etre who seems to think that he is something more than his peers. He seems to think, and respond, as a human and sometimes looks down on the actions of his fellow animals. On the other hand, Etre doesn’t seem very impressed by the humans that he encounters either. Etre seems to spend most of the book isolated and alienated because he doesn’t seem to feel that he fits into either world. The novella takes an incredibly dark turn when the slaughterhouse becomes involved in the story. Without giving away too many details, it is not a storyline for someone looking for anything lighthearted.
My feelings about the book are mixed. I understand the theme of the novella – it is about being “fenced in” within society and about the internal struggle to deal with being different and the lengths to which someone may have to go to make changes happen. While I understood that, I also found the whole George Orwell’s Animal Farm connection to be very odd. In the book, Kenniff named the farm Gorwell (which seems pretty close to George Orwell’s name) and in the promotional material, Orwell’s Animal Farm is mentioned as being an extraordinary book borne out of extraordinary times, with the connection being that Etre the Cow is of a similar caliber. At the same time, in an interview, Kenniff says that his book is nothing like Animal Farm. I must admit I agree with Kenniff – his book is nothing like Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a classic novel that contains many layers within it and is the type of book that can be read over and over again with different nuances coming out in every reading. Etre the Cow, on the other hand, is an interesting book but heavy-handed without the nuances and subtleties that I would have hoped for. While the book is interesting and I’m glad I read it, I hope that Kenniff’s future works will be a bit more subtle.
*I received no monetary compensation for this review. I received a free copy of the book to read and provide an honest review of its contents. The opinions are entirely my own and may not reflect your own opinion upon reading the book.*