HOLY COW by David Duchovny
Kirkus Star

HOLY COW

A Modern-Day Dairy Tale
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A conflicted cow, a Jewish pig and a debonair turkey seek acceptance and enlightenment during a journey across the Middle East. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before….                 

Long before he became the face of The X-Files’ Fox Mulder or Californication’s Hank Moody, Duchovny earned a master’s degree in English literature from Yale and was on his way to a Ph.D. As it turns out, his debut novel is a charming fable about dignity and tolerance, complete with anthropomorphized animals and replete with puns, double-entendres and sophisticated humor. The book is narrated by Elsie Bovary, a cow on a small farm in upstate New York  who has a clear knowledge of the kind of story she is telling. “I don’t know if you’ve read Animal Farm. It seems like that’s a book all human children have to read. Personally I prefer Charlotte’s Web, though spiders can be tricky—Harlot’s Web anybody? (And eight legs? Really? Two or four is the appropriate number of legs, everybody knows this. Maybe five, maybe. Eight seems desperate to me, or indecisive, indulgent even. You know?)” Upon learning how cows are slaughtered, Elsie plots her escape. To aid her efforts, she agrees to team up with Jerry—also known as Shalom—a Torah-reading pig who plans to use kosher dietary laws to his advantage in Jerusalem, and Tom Turkey, who wants to move to Turkey, naturally. After the obligatory training montage, the trio are off in their human disguises, traveling from Turkey to Israel to Palestine and finally Mumbai. Elsie has a very funny narrative voice, dropping bits of screenplay, suggestions for movie stars to cast (Jennifer Lawrence!), and clever but understated nods to pop culture, rock music and the value of faith. Between the book’s sly humor, gently humanist (animalist?) message and wry illustrations by Natalya Balnova, this is a pseudo–children's book that smart adults should greatly enjoy.

An offbeat adventure that reads something like Bill Willingham’s Fables directed by Ralph Bakshi.






Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-374-17207-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2014




OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for BORN A CRIME
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for ODESSA SEA
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for THE SLEEPING BEAUTY KILLER
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for SCYTHE
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Kirkus Interview
David Duchovny
author of HOLY COW
February 3, 2015

Elsie Bovary is a cow, and a pretty happy one at that—her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighboring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God—and what the Box God reveals about something called an “industrial meat farm” shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core. Holy Cow is actor David Duchovny’s first novel. “Between the book's sly humor, gently humanist (animalist?) message and wry illustrations by Natalya Balnova, this is a pseudo-children's book that smart adults should greatly enjoy,” our reviewer wrote in a starred review. View video >

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

Sci-FiTHE SOUND OF SEAS by Gillian  Anderson
by Gillian Anderson
FictionTHE LAST GIRLFRIEND ON EARTH by Simon Rich
by Simon Rich
FictionSIGHTINGS by B.J. Hollars
by B.J. Hollars