Humiliated by his hoofed legs, the flies on his haunches, and the grass in his mouth, a bull named Etre tells his tender and thought-provoking story about the brutal insignificance of cow life at Gorwell Farm. In a world where the line between disgrace and dignity is drawn by a pasture fence, Etre finds himself alone in his awareness and utterly powerless to change his circumstances. The farmer and his men control everything–herding the cows from pasture to pasture, raising the sun in the morning, and taking it down at night. Etre searches for understanding among the broads, bulls, and calves on the pasture, but finds none. On the best of days, Etre listens to the farmer’s boy sing lullabies at the fence. He likes those songs and loves the boy. But the grasses thin as the seasons pass, the cows hunger, and Etre grows desperate. He is the only cow truly starving.
A deeply philosophical and moving narrative, Être the Cow by Sean Kenniff is a brilliantly written novel about wanting more from life. The protagonist is highly intelligent and desperately wants to communicate with others. He views himself as rather ugly and has a fear of streams and dogs, as he proceeds to explain life as a bovine living in Gorwell, a rather large industrial farm owned by the Creely’s. As he explains life, he starts to question life, free will, choice, altering destiny and non-conformity. Être the Cow is a tender, at times witty, and altogether serious look into society, belonging, and humanity, all through the eyes of a bull. A story narrated entirely by a bull may seem, if not a book for a child then, an unusual storytelling approach from this protagonist, yet rest assured the protagonist in this novel could not be more appropriate. Être the Cow is a beautifully written book, rich in metaphor, symbolism, underlying social implications as well as existentialism. The reader views life through the bull and learns beauty, love, and hope through the bull’s views of My Cow and Bull Calf, what he sees and knows as well as the horror he has seen and his deep desire to be understood and to change his fate and the fate of others. The word “Être”, which happens to be the only word the bull can say aloud, means “to be”. Begging the question, what does it mean to be? This and other issues are raised in this short yet powerful novel of the known and unknown and the trappings of the familiar. Être the Cow is a novel that should not be missed and would definitely create some lively discussions for a book group.
Sean Kenniff, M.D., is a neurologist, radio host, and television journalist who appeared as one of the original castaways in the hit CBS television reality series Survivor. He made the transition to network television journalism at CBS News where he developed a reputation for delivering practical but inspirational advice on health and emotional wellbeing. Kenniff has shared his expertise on several television programs including The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Live! With Regis and Kelly, The CBS Early Show, The Howard Stern Show, Fox News, MSNBC, Extra!, Access Hollywood, Lifetime and many others. He is the creator of Healthapalooza.com, a health news website and he has appeared in video programming featured on WebMD. He hosts the popular radio program, the Dr. Sean Show, in South Florida.
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I received a complimentary copy of Être the Cow by Sean Kenniff from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.