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Men and Other Mammals    by Jim Keeble order for
Men and Other Mammals
by Jim Keeble
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Scott Barren, an emerging poet, wants what everyone else wants - someone else's life. In this case, it is that of his brother Jes, and simply a case of the grass being greener.

Scott is in the process of being discovered as a poet. His prospects are definitely looking up. But life intervenes. His mother, never articulate at her best, becomes even more reclusive. Scott and Jes have the granddaddy of all fights. His long-lost dad shows up, awakening all the resentment Scott has felt through the years at his father's abandonment of both Scott and his brother. Scott's girlfriend Ellie walks out on him. Jes and his wife Sam have a parting of the ways.

All of which is the same kind of stuff that makes up a good part of the world's problems. What makes Men and Other Mammals stand out is the manner in which these problems are presented. Keeble writes well, with a sympathy for Scott that is touching, without allowing him to drown in self-pity. The author also injects a welcome touch of humor - the bit with the penguin is classic.

Men and Other Mammals is an engaging book, especially so since it is Keeble's debut novel. It touches the heartstrings, and I look forward to his future novels doing so again.

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