I chose Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow for my book club pick in July. When I introduced the book club members to it, I told them there were four reasons I had selected it:
1. It was suggested by a friend whose opinion on the written word I respect.
2. The cover. It looks like a rock band poster.
2. It's about modern-day werewolves in L.A.
3. Aaaaaand it's written in free verse. Yeah. You heard me. FREE VERSE.
Most of the them were with me right up until #4. When I opened the book to show them the broken lines of poetry the light in their eyes was suddenly extinguished like a wet-fingered pinch to a candle flame.
I enjoyed it immensely. It was very different. You could really sink your teeth into (slight pun intended) the language once you synced with the flow of the verses. Barlow is a master of the words. Everything seemed rich and vivid written in such sparse form and he used it to his advantage. Blood seemed thicker and redder. You could smell the hot earth blown bone dry by the Santa Ana winds and the musky tangy of wet dog. You could feel the pulse and jump of the chase, the dampness of tears. See the shimmering skyline of L.A.
There were also some particularly insightful moments:
"Everyone is always looking in the wrong direction,
we worry about our lovers while losing our jobs
we stress out about cancer while our children run away
we ponder the stars while burning the earth.
Lark used to say the bullet we're running from
is almost never the one that hits us."
"What would you do to
protect the love you have?
Would you kill?
Would you hunt to kill?
Would you kill without mercy?
And if you wouldn't
then how precious is your love?"
Keeping track of all the characters proved a challenge for some. Obviously, it wasn't the first time it had come up because several of the paperback editions had a list of the characters. (Mine did not. I had the hardback version.)
We were split on the ending. I thought it suited the story, but others felt it to be incomplete.
Since finishing the book, I haven't looked at my dog in quite the same way. I keep watching him out of the corner of my eye. I could have sworn I left my keys in my purse and there was more gas in the car last night...