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Peter Rock   book cover  
Peter Rock    
essay: People and Animals

Carnival Wolves: an excerpt

  What makes Peter Rock's writing so gloriously exceptional is his ability to create a vast, rich liminal space, a world that is at once familiar and unfamiliar and characters who are both straightforward and oblique. It is seductive, accessible, grounded in reality, and yet, it plumbs the depths of the inexplicable, the mysterious, and, ultimately, the divine. Like déjà vu, you're not sure if you dreamed it or if it really happened, you only know that you've somehow been there. His novels are like inspired architecture, and Carnival Wolves is a structural tour de force. Point of view is a concern of Rock's, and the main character of this novel, Alan Johnson, narrates only part of the time. The rest of the narrative is relinquished to the viewpoints of many of the characters Alan Johnson encounters, told in the third person. It is not simply an alternation of narrators and voices. Rather, the whole is an intricate web of inextricably intertwined narrative threads that come together in a seamless whole. The novel is divided into five triptychs, with Alan Johnson narrating one third of each part. It might seem contrived in the hands of a lesser writer, but Peter Rock has the talent to pull it off. Like any great novel, Carnival Wolves is a well-told story with complex characters and compelling themes.

In Bold Type this month, we bring you an excerpt from Carnival Wolves and an essay by the author on the relationship between people and animals.

Photo of Peter Rock copyright © Frank Oudeman

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