Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tim Rowland’s Creature Features by Tim Rowland — 160 pgs

Whether it’s the bouncing and flopping dog, Opie, or the tiny horse with attitude, Tim Rowland has probably seen it all on his farm.  He shares it all with his readers in this collection of off-the-cuff essays that will leave animal lovers hungering for more. A pig that graciously thanks his owner for the scraps? A chicken who can’t seem to stop thinking of Tim’s outstretched leg as a perch? Three fractious billy goats that cause a ruckus wherever they go? Tim’s got them all living down home on the farm with him. It’s an eclectic mix of pets, that’s for sure, and he knows it. As he shares his wonderment at the strange jokes that nature plays, he gives his readers a peek at what it’s like to live nose to nose with the animals that have come to be his constant amusement and his unlikely harassers. In these 75 short essays, readers will come to know the truth about Tim: he is a man with an extremely adept way with animals, and he has a heart that is both kind and funny.

This was a departure for me. As the stress levels in my life have gone up, I ‘ve sought out softer and funnier stories to get me through the storms. This was the first of my lighter reads, and once again, it had me following my husband all over the house trying to read him passages of the book. Even he could not argue with Tim’s assessment of his pets, which was wry and amusing, and gave us both many laughs. It wasn’t the comedy alone that made this collection great, it was also the size of the pieces and the clarity of the writing.

Tim knows he’s not a normal guy. He and his wife have made a life carved out of the land and have adopted many animals into the fold, not only to be food sources but also to be companions and unlikely ruffians.  Some of his cows are there to give milk and breed, but some are there to be beef cattle, and as Tim claims, once an animal has a name, it’s here to stay. And a spirited group it is. There is a chicken named Stink who is the most agile and productive at catching stink bugs when they infest the farm, and Tim is very attached to this little fellow, who doesn’t have much going for him other than the bug work. There is a chicken who is jealous when she doesn’t receive enough attention and will peck holes into the legs of unsuspecting company when they do not exhibit the proper awe. And then there are the dogs: a bulldog, who is quite content just watching the action, and wild and wily Opie, a dog with a pedigree who acts like a feral three year old.

Like many of his animals, Tim is a card, and he relates his tales with a wilting sense of defeat that his animals seem to be overtaking the farm and worming themselves into the category of “The Named.” And there are many already on that list. What makes this particular book so refreshing is that each essay is approximately 2-½ pages long, making for bite sized reading that will have you rolling your eyes and giggling away at the odd things that he discovers on a daily basis. You need some of this in your lives, for this is all good clean fun that pokes fun directly where it should: at the animals and the couple who own them. It’s a crafty bunch that live on the farm, and each day brings new surprises that Tim may find daunting but that will provoke readers to chuckle along as Tim bumbles around and discovers the daily maelstrom that his goats, cows, pigs, et al. are involved in.

From sweet and golden moments to the wild conundrums that his pets cause , Tim has to learn to sigh and laugh it off. When the cow begins to give birth in front of Tim, he is flabbergasted and can only think to give her verbal praise, because what else can he do? Luckily his wife is on the scene and she knows just how to handle things. The thuggish goats were my favorite though. As they vow to take down a group of wild deer, they get more than they could ever bargain for. I liked the pigs too. One dour and highly righteous, the other as friendly as a dog, giving his grunts of thanks to every meal thrown into his trough, it’s clear that this particular little porker is destined to be named. Rowland gives the writing of these stories not only a hefty dose of comedy, but clearly invokes irony and his suspicion that his animals may at any time revolt and cause havoc that none can contain. It’s a clever balance between the farmer and his animals, and it’s related with such a punchy and winsome voice that readers will be smiling as the pages keep turning and turning, almost outside of their control.

I found the humor and utter brashness of Rowland’s animals to be not only funny, but could relate to the feeling that perhaps the pets will take over one day. I know I feel that way in my house sometimes, and I think others will relate to Tim’s causal stupor of the big blunders that his animals seem to naturally create for themselves and for him. If you need some funny, delivered in bite sized packages, this is the book for you. It’s hilarious without being in any way offensive and it shows its readers that animals have a lot more personality than we give them credit for, even farm animals. Original and highly raucous, this is a book that begs to be read and glitters with personality and verve. A wonderfully tight and solid little read. Recommended!



This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.

15 comments:

Book Dilettante said...

I love animal stories and especially cute ones like these. Nice review. Sound like a relaxing book.

Jennifer @ Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I'm a huge animal lover. I think this one sounds good.

bermudaonion said...

I drive Carl crazy reading him passages from books - he'll be glad he's not the only one. This sounds like a sweet book.

Suko said...

Fabulous review! I enjoyed reading your well-expressed thoughts about this book. Tim is a card, and it does seem that the animals will take over some day. :)

Darlene said...

I read Susan's review of this yesterday and she liked the book as well. I've added it to my list to read one of these days. Glad you liked it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I wish I could live like that! LOL

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm glad that you enjoyed Creature Features so much and got some comic relief!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds like just the type of book I need right now. You made it sound like one that I need to check out.

Hope you are having a good week.

Audra said...

This sounds wonderful -- Heather, I so feel you on needing funnier, warmer reads when stressed -- I wish I had more holes in my review schedule to wiggle this in -- I loved animal stories as a kid -- the Herriott novels were a fave -- and this sounds wonderful. Must.get.

Beth F said...

sounds like the perfect escape reading.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

our pets do seem to take over...I know my dog thinks he runs the house! A book about our animals in addition to being funny sounds like the perfect winter, gray day read! Thanks for the recommendation!

Elizabeth said...

I hear you with the stress levels and lighter reads - sounds like a great one.

Athira said...

This sounds so much fun to read! I am going to have to check it out. I hope your stress levels reduce soon!

Wall-to-wall books said...

I reviewed this one too. It was a cute book!

Amy Meyer said...

I have to start out by saying my cats have definitely taken over, my husband and I are simply permitted to live here to serve them! Ha! I've never heard of this book and it sounds wonderful. My greatest worry with books about animals is reading sad or painful things that happen to them. I can't really cope with that. This book sounds like it's filled with delightful, funny and poignant anecdotes about Tim's animals. I'm reminded of James Herriott's series of books I read when I was a child, including All Creatures Great and Small. This sounds like a modern, lighter version of that. And, of course, this is essays where that was basic nonfiction book with chapters.

I'm definitely going to read this book. Thank you for a terrific review, Heather. I hope this brought some lighter, stress-free moments to your life. It sounds like it did.

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