Lord of the Barnyard?

Has anyone else read “Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Unaware in the Cornbelt,” by Tristan Egolf?

Fucking brilliant. Just wondering who else has discovered this gem.

I haven’t, no. Haven’t even heard of it. Perhaps you can whet my appetite by telling us how it is brilliant and what it is about…

This is a good description:
How often do we find first novels and ask, ‘How can this writer be so good?’ Tristan Egolf, author of Lord of the Barnyard, is in his late twenties (born in 1971 the jacket note tells us, but nothing else). Just where did he get the nerve to be so good on his first outing? Isn’t there something about having to pay your dues? Not just in rock 'n roll but also in life? If there isn’t there ought to be. Nobody deserves to be this good without putting in an awful lot of sweat and tears, suffering pain and rejection, learning his trade, honing his skills, practising his art blah, blah, blah.
So what makes Egolf different? Maybe he’s just too young and inexperienced to realise how hard it is to write such a good novel. Perhaps he was just too naïve to be overcome by fear of what he set out to achieve. Who knows? One thing I’m sure of is that there are major best-selling authors who have never even attempted something as powerful as Lord of the Barnyard, wouldn’t know writing and storytelling of this quality if it bit them on the arse.
So what’s the story? John Kaltenbrunner is a man who seems to have grown up without the benefit of positive role models and virtually no input from another human being. A strange child, he takes over the running of the family farm from his mother - who has been letting it run to rack and ruin since the death of her husband before the boy was even born - and changes its profile completely. Before he even reaches his teens he has turned the farm into a successful battery hen enterprise, transforming himself through sheer force of determination into a veritable chicken expert and relating on equal terms with the local wholesaler who purchases his stock. And all this despite the fact that his formal education is almost zero; he only attends school, where he spends his days staring out the window, in order to stay out of trouble with the law.
When through bad luck and the thoughtless malice of his neighbours and the church the farm is lost, John ends up in jail, helpless to salvage anything following the death of his mother. Legally guilty, though morally innocent, John spends three years working for the state before returning to his home town on parole.
In John Kaltenbrunner, Tristan Egolf has created a marvel of characterisation. He is completely self-involved, almost totally socially dysfunctional, a complete loser with zero personality and no redeeming features (barring an extraordinary capacity for manual labour and an organisational aptitude for his labours), and yet he becomes the focal point of a major social upheaval and a figurehead for change amongst his work-mates. Egolf describes him completely by his actions; as the book is narrated by an unnamed third party to the action described, there is no internal dialogue. In fact the narrator constantly tells us that he has no understanding of Kaltenbrunner and doubts that anyone could. But there is no doubt that we sympathise and to a degree understand Kaltenbrunner, can even attempt to relate to his obscure and twisted motivations.
Lord of the Barnyard is a gothic horror of the mind. The creeping sense of dread and the knowledge of the inevitability of Kaltenbrunner’s ultimate failure hold the power to keep you awake, more surely than all the stalk and slash novels you could possibly subject yourself to. This is horror of the soul. And brilliant. Not a novel to be undertaken lightly."
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I read it. It’s a good portrayal of how obsession and obstinance can lead to destruction, but it’s not a user-friendly read. There’s no conversation. It’s all descriptions of conversations.

I read where Egolf wrote this book in France, and it’s a best seller there because the French think of it as an American native’s criticism of his own country. It’s not so much about American warped values as it is about small society warped values. It could conceivably take place in any small town around the world, where neighbors constantly spy on each other, good ol’ boy politics is the rule, and isolation breeds paranoia.

It’s very much like something Chuck Palahniuk would have wrote.

I thought this was a thread about the late, great Shaft. He was a baaad mutton-fucshut yo mouth!. I think you can see his picture on my wife’s website (click below). Unfortunatly, he started to butt heads with a bigger ram and broke his neck a couple weeks ago. Ah, you will be missed, my friend!

As for the book, no didn’t read it. No time to read. Too busy skiing.

Knowed out: I thought I read that he wrote the book while living in small town Indiana. Nevertheless, I think he’s well traveled and has the experience that brings. It still blows me away that he wrote such a brilliant novel at such a young age.

I checked it out of the library a while back, but I think I returned it without bothering to read it. I either ran out of time or skimmed some of it and decided it wasn’t interesting.