So our friend and neighbor wrote a book: an epic poem about werewolves. I was pretty nervous to read it, given my general wariness of werewolf epic poetry. It's just out in paperback (following a critically-praised hardcover) and over a 10-hour period on our vacation I burned through it. And it's really fucking good.

It's the story of several packs of lycanthropes struggling for power in a noir-ish underworld of contemporary Los Angeles. The traditional werewolf mythology is set aside: there are no silver bullets or full moon transformations. These postmodern lycanthropes in human form are lawyers, punks, potheads, surfer dudes. They recruit or kill the "unmournable." They change into canine form at will, and resemble common dogs more than wolves. Over the course of the poem, a dogcatcher and a cop get caught up in the increasing pack warfare. There's love, sex, and lots of violence. Given my interest in (and frightening experiences with) feral dog packs here in Detroit, I was really fascinated by this well-told story.

The first time I picked the book up I did struggle with the free verse, but after I grew accustomed to it I hardly noticed the poetry until a particularly poetic line would strike me, and it was always a good thing. Toby says in an interview, "Instead of thinking of it as poetry or verse, try thinking of it as a story stripped down to its very essence." The style definitely adds a sense of urgency to each page, as if the right margins seem too large for the story to be resolved in the pages you have left. But don't let him fool you. There is poetry here too.

But it through any of these sites.*

*Nobody gave me a copy of the book or asked me to write this. I wouldn't recommend it to you unless I actually thought it was really good.

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