Friday, December 5, 2014

Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves

I usually try (unsuccessfully) to come up with a clever title for my blog posts, but I've done a couple book reviews recently for novels with such cool titles that I decided to feature the book titles instead. Case in point: Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves, by Carolyn Chute. What a sweet title!

This was another review in the Boston Globe, in this past Sunday's paper. As with my post for The Laughing Monsters, I'd advise you to read the review, or better yet, the actual book, but I'll try to give a short description. The book takes place in rural Maine, in the fictional town of Egypt. Ivy Morelli, a reporter for the local paper, is investigating a strange and secretive compound called the Settlement. "It’s a cult, the residents whisper. There are pregnant child brides and child abuse, and even worse, a violent militia is stockpiling weapons, and who knows to what end? But are the stories true?" The group maintains that their aim is to provide an alternative community to the poor and outcast, away from the greed and lust for power in greater society. The charismatic leader Gordon St. Onge seems to convince Ivy that all is well, and she joins the Settlement. But a 15-year-old girl named Bree joins the group as well, and as the review explains, "It’s Bree who will cause a tsunami among the Settlement and the outsiders, one that will change just about everything for just about everyone — and not always in the best of all possible ways."

With my original set of sketches, I wanted to reference the stockpiling of weapons, but also the antagonistic stance of the Settlement toward the greed of society. In #1 and #3 I was trying to show Gordon's relationship with the women in the group- he apparently had twenty-odd wives constantly following him around.

 The editor felt it was too geared toward the "militia" themes, but also wanted the texture of the setting to come through in the illustration. Dirt roads, old wood, etc. I thought it might be a good solution to show the texture as planks of wood for a fence or wall around the compound, leaving peepholes exposing themes from the story: stockpiling weapons, Gordon's apparent stance toward society, and the red-haired Bree. It allows for multiple elements of the novel to be shown, without getting too complex, and implies the secrecy and enigmatic nature of the Settlement. The varying styles of collage also helped to connect to the novel, because it's constructed through multiple narrators, including not only the human characters, but Television, Mammon, and even aliens. Based on this review, and others, it sounds like a great book. Thank you to Kim for the assignment!