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"Lord of the Barnyard"

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Part political spoof, part social commentary, Tristan Egolf's Lord of the Barnyard (Grove Press; $24) merges dirty jokes with three-dollar words in a surreal, scatalogical survey of the state of small-town America. Egolf's hero is a farmer-idiot savant named John Kaltenbrunner, a boy who prefers the company of livestock to that of his (rather animalistic) classmates. A biblical series of disasters -- tornados, slaughterhouses, Methodist crones -- bring John to the breaking point. Finally, he sinks to one of society's lowest rungs -- garbage collector -- and from this vantage exacts his revenge on the upstanding citizens of his Kentucky hometown, methodically and diabolically using his knowledge of the animal kingdom to turn the valley into the barnyard of his dreams.


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