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Stephen Graham Jones Å 1 REVIEW

Mongrels

Rnly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them They are mongrels mixed blood neither this nor that The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracksFor ten years he and his family have lived a life of late night exits and narrow escapes always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not And the close c. This book was great I mean there s not a succinct way to put it G R E A TIt s a coming of age story about a young man who lives in a family of outlaw werewolves and a chronicle of their travels across the impoverished and dangerous American South I don t know if that last sentence sells the book or not but if it doesn t FEAR NOT The execution far surpasses the general conceit This book is ENGAGING I mean I was rapt from the first few pages There s something poetic yet effortless in the voice in which Jones uses to tell this tale Hints of collouialism keeps the prose bouncing along as BIG concepts get boiled down into simple and sometimes gorygruesome metaphors Behind the horror and all the werewolf talk this truly is a story about growing up and the TRUE terror that brings Although the books is told in chapters that work like vignettes spanning the course of narrator s formative years and as such it eschews a plot driven story arc it makes up for it with laser focused CHARACTER arcs that I as a reader couldn t help but be emotionally invested inThere s a thousand small revelations and a thousand small victories to be found in these pages and that s in ADDITION to what is perhaps the best werewolf story I ve ever read Do yourself a favor Read this

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FINALIST FOR THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD  FINALIST FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD  FINALIST FOR THE THIS IS HORROR AWARD    HONORABLE MENTION LOCUS AWARDS    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2016 BY TORCOM AND BOOK RIOTA spellbinding and darkly humorous coming of age story about an unusual boy whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears themHe was born an outsider like the rest of his family Poor yet resilient he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren folk who stubbo. Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright from The Wolf Man 1941It s hard out there for a wolf We ve come a long way from the classic from Vixens and Monstertumblrcom What did you want be As children we all have dreams of ourselves as adults I started out a West Bronx local in a very concrete world wanting to be a forest ranger later an astronaut later still an aeronautical engineer with the usual adolescent rock star fantasy tossed in I imagine most of us had dreams well within the range of reasonable human experience and fantasy whether or not we ever saw them through to fruition The narrator of Mongrels being raised by his aunt Libby uncle Darren and his grandfather dreams of growing up to be like them I guess many of us want to be like the adults who raise us Libby Darren and Grandpa however are werewolves werewolves they ve always been where it s at for me I remember being twelve living way out in the country and creeping up from my bed after lights out and pressing my forehead to the cold glass so I could watch the darkness for werewolves I had no doubt at all that they were running in these fast clockwise circles around our house And that if I uit watching even for a blink then they were coming in for us So I ve been thinking on the werewolf for a long time now I ve been watching for them What always interested me most about them though after the teeth and claws and transformations it was the day to day difficulties of being a different maligned species How to explain why your pants keep being ripped up Why does your friend s dog run yelping away when you walk up I spent a lot of my twelfth year trying to become a werewolf maybe because I knew I could never beat them so I might as well get out there and run with them But nothing ever took So Mongrels it s as close as I can get I suppose from Muzzlepress interview Mongrels is a magnificent imagining of what it might look like if werewolves were really padding around in the 21st century American South No effete vampires here This is very much a working class wolf world bloody desperate fearful primitive Stephen Graham JonesJones tells his story in eighteen chapters that wander in time and location The narrator is a never named boy well a teacher addresses him by a name but we assume it to be a temporary not a true one we watch through his growth from age eight to sixteen although not in chronological order the age by which those whose DNA is of the tooth and claw variety usually manifest their nature He yearns for the change even though there is no guarantee that it will happen for him Jones indulges in a bit of cuteness by referring to his narrator as the vampire in one chapter the reporter in another the biologist in a third and so on It s pretty adorable and works in a way to counterpoint delight and bloodiness I was reminded of Joe Hill s The Fireman which employs a similar techniue An American Werewolf in London raised the bar for cinematic ch ch changes This is a peripatetic pack itinerant than territorial always trying to keep one step ahead of suspicious neighbors and inuisitive law enforcement They are very tough on the vehicles they somehow keep acuiring And if you had the misfortune of renting a residence to them you will be making full use of the security deposit for cleanup after they leave Much of the fun in the book lies in the many specifics of werewolf existence For example Werewolves are paranoid about having dog breath are always brushing their teeth and chewing mints Some of the details are fascinating Proper change attire is of great and surprising importance Mating with a human does not bode well for a non lycan woman who does not hew to the safety first mantra Silver is considered Education is primarily through TV game shows and family tales that may or may not have germs of truth One thing it is not is at all glamorous They encounter various sorts in their travels WW wannabees a stalker an exploitive businessman who sees economic opportunity in milking a captive lycan to enhance his profit margins While there may be no pentagrams an angry mob with actual torches and pitchforks puts in an appearance that is part alarming and part comedic Famous characters from American history are brought into the moonlight for a new look and are guaranteed to make you bare your teeth in a good way The family banter gets hilarious on occasion well I thought it was pretty funny anyway Just when I thought I d figured out what made a girlfriend happy what would make one stay I would do something wrong again and that would be that Something wrong like I don t know like eating their pet goat Libby said without looking over from the game show glowing all our faces light blue The initiative for writing this book came from an unusual source Back in 2008 or so I last minute got asked to teach an open topic Genre course Like the week before the semester So I said sure if I could teach zombies Which I did for two or three or four years Loved it But then I wanted something different so I proposed my heart s true love the werewolf And it got approved and I got some funds to buy up werewolf books and movies So cue the avalanche of texts here It hit early in December of 2013 and I read about a werewolf book every two days I imagine and was watching movies deep into every night My deadline was December 31st too so I shut down the course prep then But my mind it wouldn t stop spinning with all this So on January 1st my fingers twitching like they were going to pop claws I sat down at the keyboard started Mongrels and had a solid draft of it down by the time the semester started from the Muzzlepress interviewIf you have issues with violence or with creatures small and not so small coming to bloody ends Mongrels is definitely not the right kibble for you There is a considerable body count people and critters If you are expecting a straight up fright fest I suppose there are things in here that might make the fur hair on the back of your hands neck stand up I lost no sleep after reading this but I tend not to keep my head under the covers after reading a horror book most of the time anyway so that doesn t really say much I have felt a lot fear about the well armed masses of the paranoid and twitchy who are locked and loaded across our great nation and of blustering authoritarian wannabes than I ever will be of shape shifting migrant workers driving crappy cars and watching too much tube But therein lies the great value of Mongrels If you look past the tooth and claw you will pick up the scent of underlying content As with the folks under the scope here there are two levels The wolfy thing and then the irresistible portrayal of people any people on the fringes of society I was reminded of Willy Vlautin who also writes of working class people struggling to survive in a challenging world There is even a Steinbeckian fragrance your enhanced olfactory sense will probably pick up I am sure you have your own favorite authors who hunt in those woodsHow can you ever get ahead if you are always on the move How can you get an education if you have to leave every school because the cops are starting to close in How can you stay in one place even without doing the changing thing if it is only a matter of time before your true nature is revealed and you are shunned or worse by polite society Whether that shunning is because you are devouring the local livestock or because you are just however proper your behavior not considered the right sort of people You can bet someone would love to build a wall to keep those people out Heeeeeeeere s WolfieThe turf Jones writes of here is familiar as he has personally traveled it a fair bit We farmed but we didn t make our living off of farming he explains My mom ran daycare or she would work at a tanning salon Just all kinds of jobs My different stepdads would work construction or in the oil fields We always would come back to the same farming community in Greenwood but that was just the place we d bounce off of before going somewhere else We always had a horse trailer that we d pack bags and boxes in and go from the Westword interviewSo bottom line is that we likee the lycans Yeah Mongrels may not be all that scary but it is very smart particularly in the imagining of WW life details It has something to say about class and society and it is a lot of fun It may not force you to shift your shape even if you read it during a full moon but Mongrels is delightful enough to warrant than a few joyful howls and if you get the urge to dine on a neighbor s livestock after reading it or even your neighbor for that matter at least you will know that you are probably not alone Mongrels is a real treatReview Posted 62416Publication Date 51016EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal Twitter and FB pagesInterviews Muzzleland Press CUT MY FINGERTIPS THEY BLEED TEXAS AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES ON HIS NEW NOVEL MONGRELS by Jonathan R from Westword With Mongrels This Is Stephen Graham Jones s Time to Howl by Jason HellerA video on writing by SGJI only want a trim not a cut okI absolutely had to include this link so kitschy so 80s so un lupine Stephen Graham Jones Crimereads July 15 2020 Why Exposing Kids to Horror Might Actually Be Good for ThemParticularly in the world today we need to learn the lesson that while there is certainly evil in the world it is possible to overcome it I have always had a fondness for horror When I was seven years old my mother took me to see The Crawling Eye a cheesy sci fihorror flick that I loved The Tingler came out when I was still seven and I saw and loved that one too maybe with my older brother A few years later Mr Sardonicus I can recall no trauma although clearly I had mom s DNA and enjoyment of horror films to support my interest Jones makes a strong point about why it is important to stay the course while exposing your kids to these things Well worth reading NY Times 81420 We ve Already Survived an Apocalypse Indigenous Writers Are Changing Sci Fi by Alexandra Alter

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Alls they've been running from for so long are catching up fast now Everything is about to changeA compelling and fascinating journey Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world A smart and innovative story funny bloody raw and real told in a rhythmic voice full of heart Mongrels is a deeply moving sometimes grisly novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new w. Amazing story Must Read Best of 2016You know that feeling The one where you re immersed in a world where you re not ready to leave Where you are so involved in these characters lives that you need to stayjust a little bit longer Where it can t end Not yet not now When you find a great novel that s exactly what happens When I read To Kill a Mockingbird The Traveling Vampire Show Salem s Lot Ghoul Brave New World and recently Midnight Rain and The Last Days of California that s what happened I wasn t ready to let go but the author gave me no choiceThat brings us to Stephen Graham Jones Mongrels Mongrels is the story of a boy and his aunt and uncle They are a pack of werewolves He is still waiting to see if he is ever going to change Along the way we get a ton of great stories and situations revolving around the threesome This is far from your traditional werewolf tale of blood full moons and silver bullets Stephen Graham Jones takes us down a path that while perfectly lycanthropian is bigger than the wolf bigger than the monster Mongrels is a wonderful novel that will capture your attention your wonder and your heart Much than a werewolf romp this story is a full on literary masterpiece Okay okay I m partial to werewolf stories but I am confident that Mongrels will find its way into your good graces as wellWhether you love werewolves or just great fiction Grab a copy of Stephen Graham Jones Mongrels You can thank me laterI give Mongrels 5 starsOne of the best books of 2016


About the Author: Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is the author of fifteen novels and six collections He really likes werewolves and slashers Favorite novels change daily but Valis and Love Medicine and Lonesome Dove and It and The Things They Carried are all usually up there somewhere Stephen lives in Boulder Colorado It's a big change from the West Texas he grew up in He's married with a couple kids and probably one



10 thoughts on “Mongrels

  1. says:

    Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright from The Wolf Man 1941It’s hard out there for a wolf We’ve come a long way from the classic from Vixens and Monstertumblrcom What did you want be? As children we all have dreams of our

  2. says:

    The most human werewolf novel I've ever read

  3. says:

    “Always feed a wolf his fill the old woman uotes out loud lest you wake with your throat in his jaws” Until very recently I always thought that lycanthropy was a made up condition Human beings don't really turn into human wolf hybrids under a full moon ripping through their clothes and feasting on hapless prey But I just finished Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones a few days ago a buddy read with my pal Mindi and now I'm prett

  4. says:

    I feel bad about it but I'll say it anyway Mongrels didn't work that well for meI listened to the audio and at first I thought it was the narrators that were my problem After a while though I became accustomed to their vo

  5. says:

    This book was great I mean there’s not a succinct way to put it G R E A TIt’s a coming of age story about a yo

  6. says:

    This is a werewolf coming of age story that was so much fun to read Clever chapter titles fun little jokes you could miss if you weren't paying attention fun twist on the beasties

  7. says:

    Amazing story Must Read Best of 2016You know that feeling? The one where you’re immersed in a world where you’re not ready to leave? Where you are so involved in these characters lives that you need to stayjust a litt

  8. says:

    The best–the best— werewolf novel I have ever read It’s a coming of age story of a young boy whose family lives on the

  9. says:

    A new favorite

  10. says:

    It is always a treat to discover a novel that places new twists on old ideas The werewolf novel has been around a long time and there really di

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