War Against the Animals

Cameron Barnes, formerly of New York City, lives in a small town in upstate New York. After having nearly succumbed to AIDS, he’s recently regained a measure of his health but his long-term lover has left him and Cameron faces the daunting prospect of learning how to live with the idea of a future in mind again. As part of this, he hires two local brothers in their early twenties, Jesse and Kyle Vanderhof, to renovate a shed on his property. With the depressed economy of the area, the changing population of the town, and the recent death of their father, the Vanderhofs are facing hard times and tough decisions. The older of the brothers, Kyle, sees an opportunity in Cameron, pushing his brother Jesse to befriend him and take advantage of Cameron’s boredom and directionlessness. Caught between the opposing worlds embodied by Cameron and Kyle, Jesse is torn by the demands of his brother, the expectations of his family and community, and his own mix of volatile, contradictory emotions. Mirroring the community’s own increasingly tense split between long-term residents and new arrivals, this trio moves inexorably toward crisis and potential tragedy that will transform each of their lives.


War Against the Animals was honored as a Finalist, 2004 Lambda Literary Award.


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“Paul Russell’s smashing new novel explores a subject that is almost taboo in contemporary American fiction: class… a profound dissection of a young man at war with himself.”—The Advocate


“Culture clash and unlikely lovers have jump-started a lot of great plots. Yes, you probably know what’s going to happen, but if the writing is as richly compassionate as Paul Russell’s is in his new novel, War Against the Animals, predictable feels more like perfection.”—The Washington Post


“Russell’s compassionate, insightful prose illuminates the differences that help define us under the umbrella of community as well as the sparks that fly when boundaries are violated.”—Publishers Weekly


“Powerful, evocative, and simmers with eroticism.” —Chicago Free Press

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