amazon.de Lord of the Barnyard

This novel can only have been written by somebody who was born and raised in a small Midwestern town like Baker, the setting of the story. Nobody else would have been able to descibe life in such a town better than Tristan Egolf.
An omniscient narrator follows the different stages in the life of John Kaltenbrunner, the protagonist. The narrator mostly relies on the memoirs of a certain Wilbur Altemeyer, one of the few people who was acquainted with John. John K. grows up on a farm which he runs all by himself, even at the age of 9. He not only appears to be particular in this respect, but also proves to be an outsider and loner at school where he avoids any contact with his peers and teachers and suffers tremendously from unspeakable beatings and insults by his fellow students. In his later life he also remains the one who fights against all the community of Baker.
John lays bare and ridicules the values and hypocracies of the God-fearing people in this Midwestern community, where homosexuality is a crime, but incest and wife-beatings common features of everyday life.
Lord of the Barnyard is not only an account of an unlucky, hapless young man who alienates himself from the people around him, is kicked out of school, imprisoned on a river freight barge, returns three years later from imprisonment to his hometown and eventually becomes the ringleader of a strike of garbage collectors ('hill scrubs'). But it is also a criticism of the mob mentality in rural American Midwest, of selfish practices of Methodists ('Methodist crones'), of unjust lawyers and courts, of sensationalist media and of appalling working conditions on poultry farms, abbatoirs and landfills.
Although John appeared to be completely uneducated when he was a young person, later Wilbur Altemeyer (the chronologist) says that he was 'articulate, quick-witted, unapologetic and..uncompromisingly strong willed'. Only keeping this in mind can it be understood that John was able to organise a strike that was to have a lasting impact on the whole town of Baker and its neighboring counties. Therefore the strike itself covers the largest part of the novel which is the last 150 pages of it.
The novel is mostly satirical and reveals the shortcomings of people as well as the whole political entity of that cornbelt town of Baker.
At times the reading can become tedious as episodes are narrated in great detail and in an overblown language which makes it even harder for a non-native speaker of the English language not to lose the thread. But it's worth the effort.

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