Bunyan’s Guide to the Great American Wildlife
Written by Quentin Canterel
What happens when the Manhattan zoo empties its cages?
John, part radicalized anarchist, part ticking time bomb, is haunted by a particular story, that of Willow, a 9-year old mute who flees to New York after her brutal rape. The only way his girlfriend, Felicity, can stop the clock counting down is by disentangling the riddle of their pasts , before their entwined futures are blown to pieces.
Quentin Canterel’s second novel presents a collage of voices, dead and alive, in a unique and unnerving novel that experiments with form, structure and language. Truly a mystery shrouded in an enigma.
Guest Reviewer, James Peters has written this review, and I was by his side every time he yelled out, “Are you serious?” and “WTF just happened?” It was great. Thank you James, for reviewing this for me. Love you.
This is fiction, or is it? Sometimes its hard to tell. Author Quentin Canterel weaves a fancy basket of Americana in a partial folklore and partial love story romantic, with modern rom-com characters.
From what I can make of it, John is an angel who experienced his untimely passing at a young age. In doing so, left behind a manuscript called “The Guide”. His male roommate starts his narration by threatening to publish John’s guide via OUIJA board chat.
Our story includes two very distinct voices. One that is Willow, a nine year old girl in Georgia who lives with her grandfather. She is referred to as elective-ly mute, as it is understood that fear is the only thing that prevents her from communicating with her voice. Her grandfather spends his time woefully drinking and praying for her to one day use her voice.
In an attempt to explain the mysteries of life he shares with her whimsical characters of the forest. Some are relatively well known, like a Leprechaun, yet most often unheard of. Both she and he refer to them as the “Fearsome Creatures”, and a character named Broady draws Willow pictures to support the concoctions.
Charming in itself, this side of the book has a pleasant country tone, and the font that the author chooses for this part enables you to easily recognize the child’s voice. Before too long you are enveloped in Willows life and your heartstrings are pulled this way and that.
Having lived in the south for some time, ( Texas, rather than Georgia), I can picture the scenes and “goings-on” quite clearly and rather than offer a spoiler to you I will say that there is a lot of heartfelt moments that get yer’ eyes all teared up.
Then, in juxtaposition to Willow, we have John’s roommate and Felicity, his female counterpart tromping about in the big city with a (90’s) gothy-emo type 3rd wheel relationship. John continually plays the dedicated swooning victim to entertain Felicity. As Zulficar (the narrator), witnesses to the cat and mouse touch ass moments of emotional fancy. John apparently has a “Romantic” ire that keeps his friends entertained and in doing so he is often the unwilling center of attention.
The three tend to spend a majority of their time repulsed by what they see around them. The city, clubs, fake people of the scenes they haunt, and in doing so there is a kind of non committal innocence that surrounds them. Yes, hearts get broken, and the moral is that ****** ****** **** …oh wait, I promised no spoilers. But I will say that in an archetypical since there are great parallels to “Dante’s Inferno” to the point that Felicity could easily be named Beatrice, and John, Dante.
Truly this was a pleasant reading experience with all kinds of personality and charming characters. I give it a 4 stars, but also mention to the reader not to try to take this lightly, as the contrast in story lines is easily missed and one could find themselves having to go back and review often for the sake of catching up. P.S. There are a lot of WTF moments.
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank You. I have included links below, but it does not mean they work. 🙂