Only the Animals


This is a very interesting collection of short stories. The stories comment on humanity and what it means to be human, but the commentary is done by animals. Each story also takes place during a war. War serves as an equalizer between human and animal and the lines between us blur. Humans succumb to animalistic desires while the animals, who are perhaps more aware of the world than we are, question our reign over them.

I’m not going to give ratings for each story because I feel very similarly about all of them and it is difficult for me to rate them. The most jarring thing is that the animals don’t sound like animals. I would imagine the “voices” of animals to be more simplistic, but the animals in these stories sound very much like humans. Their inner monologue is very philosophical and they are acutely aware of things like relationships, art, technology, and even their own anatomy. In some stories this amount of intelligence makes sense (the chimp story for sure), but it took me a while to get used to the very human-like narration. This is probably done to bridge the gap between human and animal- maybe to make them easier to relate as well- but a part of me thinks that the animals could still “feel” like animals and still share their lessons on humanity.

This collection is smart and very intriguing. Most of the stories left a mark on me, but some fell a little flat. This is a good collection, but as a whole they felt a little repetitive at times. The standout stories for me were the mussel’s (so different and weird), the elephant’s (touching), and the bear’s (my poor heart!). I’m somewhat torn on my feelings for these, but it gets a recommendation from me.

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