Friday, October 4, 2019

Book Review: Mad Dog

Thank god it's Friday. I feel like this week just took forever to get through and I'm just run down. I wish I could say my weekend will be all relaxed and restful, but no. I'm taking Olivia and her friend to a concert tomorrow and then Sunday, if it isn't cold and rainy, we might go to a pumpkin patch. At this rate it's not looking great so I might sleep all day. We'll see how I'm feeling. Yesterday and today has just been rough, constantly feeling like I have the flu when I know I don't, that's the stuff I wish I could change but it is what it is.

In preparation of the weekend, I have a book review for a rather short book that will leave you with some real thoughts.

Mad Dog - Kelly Watt
It's the summer of 1964 and the Supremes are the reigning queens of radio. Sheryl-Anne MacRae dreams of running away from her home on an apple orchard in southwestern Ontario to find her missing mother. But the teenager's plans are put on hold when her uncle and guardian, Fergus, the local pharmacist and an amateur photographer, brings home a handsome young hitchhiker. When Sheryl-Anne meets the guitar-toting Peter Lucas Angelo, she falls in love. But life in Eden Valley is not as idyllic as it seems. As the summer progresses, Peter is pulled deeper into Fergus's dangerous underworld--a world of sex, drugs, pornography and apocalyptic visions. Through the naive eyes of the ethereal 14-year old Sheryl-Anne, Kelly Watt explores themes of child abuse and sexual deviance, and the secrets, dissociation and denial that allow it to flourish. A Gothic tale told in vivid, often hallucinogenic prose, Mad Dog was a 2001 Globe and Mail notable book and Watt's first novel.
Well first and foremost, this book is absolutely not going to be for everyone. I had kind of an idea of what I thought it was going to be, but when I finished that last page my exact words to my husband were, "what the in the actual hell did I just read?!". I honestly have no idea where to start or where to go, that's where I'm at.

Um. OK, so we have Sheryl-Anne who is just a young teenager who becomes enamored with Peter as soon as he comes to the farm. He was a hitchhiker her uncle picked up and he's going to work there for a bit before he goes on his way to be a musician. So, right away knowing that Peter was quite a bit older than Sheryl-Anne, I'm thinking this was going to be a child abuse thing where he's a weird transient that takes advantage and leaves. Which, it's just so much more complex and bizarre than that. Turns out her uncle, Fergus, is a bit of a.... pervert? Cult leader? I don't even know how to properly describe him but something definitely isn't right on the farm because it's clear Peter is fascinated by Fergus and his life and sees Fergus as some kind of idol... kind of. The book takes place over the course of this summer and it goes from "aw... kid with a crush, we've all been there" to "holy hell- this is creeping me out".

It's almost too late by the time you realize what's going on and all of the dots are connected. I will say, that's kind of the charm of this book- your urgency to get to the end and figure out the puzzle is the same urgency Sheryl-Anne feels as her character is trying to piece everything together.

Overall... I'm reluctantly giving this a 3 star. It really disturbed me on a lot of levels, but I think it's really meant to. This isn't a case of "wow- this author is off the rails" it's absolutely a controlled ride off the rails- that's exactly where this author wanted us to go but is fully aware and in charge of the train, so to speak. You leave this book with the affirmation that you don't know anyone. The person you see out in the world is not the person behind their front door, it's all different and nothing is ever as it seems.

(Side note: this book is written a little oddly in which no quotation marks are used in conversation, so it took me a bit to get the hang of it. In hindsight it almost reads as someone recounting this story, if that makes sense.)
Many thanks to Kelly Watt and PR by the Book for sending me a copy of Mad Dog, and of course, this post contains affiliate links. If you pick this one up, let me know what you think- I want to know what you thought.

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