Books on Tape. Oct. 2021. 8:54 hrs. ISBN 9780593456095. $76. HORROR
Malerman (Bird Box) fortifies a well-established body of work with his latest, a novel about a psychic pig’s murderous rampage. Pearl, a deformed pig on a farm near Chowder, MI, seems to be a mere curiosity until he manipulates his owner’s teenage grandson Jeff to maul another, healthy pig. When Jeff blames Pearl, Pearl begins his unholy war against humanity. Surreal internal conflicts fit the small-town setting perfectly, even if the characters sometimes stall into fugue-like thoughts. Pearl finds the latent guilt in everyone—from a meatpacking tycoon, to a dedicated police officer, to a high school student dreaming of the outside world—and twists it to his own purposes. Despite this, Pearl only exacerbates existing problems in order to inflict his own punishment. Malerman’s work is an intimate horror in a highly localized scope, as well as an examination of the way a community accounts for the mistakes it perpetuates. Narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen’s even tone captures the highly personal nature of the drama, but sometimes the prose wants to move faster than her voice does.
VERDICT Buy it. Possibly Malerman’s best.
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