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3.6 3
by Tristan Egolf

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Tristan Egolf's new novel is a book about the return of an old curse — the Kornwolf, a ferocious werewolf whose nocturnal rampaging becomes increasingly impossible to ignore. Kornwolf takes the reader for a good old-fashioned romp in the stubble — a journey through the slums and honky tundra of rural Pennsylvania, where nothing quite passes for


Tristan Egolf's new novel is a book about the return of an old curse — the Kornwolf, a ferocious werewolf whose nocturnal rampaging becomes increasingly impossible to ignore. Kornwolf takes the reader for a good old-fashioned romp in the stubble — a journey through the slums and honky tundra of rural Pennsylvania, where nothing quite passes for good or bad, sublime or dismal, discrete or brash. And then the monotony breaks. Something — a freak of creation — is running amok in the fields. To solve the mystery, three generations of prodigal sons — a writer and hometown boy who swore he'd never come back to Penn's Woods; a middle-aged former pugilist who runs a decrepit boxing gym; and a misfit, mute, beaten-down Amish boy — are brought together by the light of a blue moon, in a town called Blue Ball. On one level this is a masterfully orchestrated, hilarious, and compelling take on the classic horror yarn, on another, Kornwolf is a social satire of suburban sprawl, closed minds, and all manners and varieties of self-satisfaction — Amish, civilian, or... other — in the best tradition of Tom Robbins and George Saunders.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Depending on the phases of the moon, Ephraim, antihero of this caustic, exuberant novel, changes from a meek Amish lad into a hideous, foul-smelling werewolf with a taste for Satanic thrash-metal and an uncanny resemblance to Richard Nixon. Pursued by a cynical reporter, a sympathetic boxing coach with a mysterious past and a horde of vigilantes, Ephraim rampages through the barns and cornfields of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, as well as the exurban subdivisions and Sprawl-Marts that are gnawing away at it. As he lopes toward a prophesied Halloween bloodbath, his howl gives voice to the hidden violence and sexual transgressions of the orderly, pacifist Amish, the "hedonic enchantments" with which consumer culture seduces the young and deranges settled communities, or perhaps an anarchic devilry that neither traditional religion nor modern capitalism can tame. This is familiar teen-werewolf territory, but Egolf, who committed suicide earlier this year, infuses it with deadpan wit and sardonic social satire, both sympathizing with and lampooning the Amish resistance-and occasional surrender-to the corruption of "English" society. Like Stephen King, Egolf (Lord of the Barnyard) pokes the dark, squalid underbelly of smalltown life, but adds an edge of punk derision. Although Egolf's climax plunges into lurid melodrama, he delivers a smart, stylish supernatural fable with an infectious bite. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Newly hired by the Stepford Daily Plea, Owen Brynmor is on to something big: The Blue Ball Devil is back. Other reporters may jeer, but in between bouts at the West Side Gym, where coach Jack Stumpf is trying to rebuild the career of a brilliant has-been, Owen tracks down evidence of this marauding werewolf. Meanwhile, things are not as quiet as one might expect among the Amish. Not only has Ephraim, the mute and battered son of nasty Minister Benedictus Bontrager, turned so wild that he is being publicly shamed, but it appears that the Blue Ball Devil is, of all things, an Amish werewolf. The link between Ephraim and the werewolf seems pretty evident from the beginning, and though there are beautifully creepy passages here-some of which leave one desperately sorry for Ephraim-this novel ultimately feels like a bit of a mess: overwritten, overstated, leaping about as frantically as the werewolf itself. And when this benighted creature does arrive full blown, it is less grotesquely scary than just plain gross, an interesting slant that doesn't really work. The late author of Lord of the Barnyard had talent to burn, but, sadly, he burned it all up here. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/05.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Multiple incarnations of the title beast terrorize rural "Pennsyltucky" in this raucous third, and last novel from the late (1971-2005) Midwestern author. As he did in its predecessors Lord of the Barnyard (1999) and Skirt and the Fiddle (2002), Egolf-who's sort of a mutant amalgam of Jack Kerouac and Harry Crews-lampoons the heartland and its comfy values. But there's something authentically weird about the Middle Americans of the hamlet of Blue Ball in Pennsylvania's Stepford County-as native son and newspaper reporter Owen Brynmor learns when he returns "home" to investigate reports that "The Blue Ball Devil was back." Indeed, a particularly grungy were-person has been devouring livestock, wrecking farmland and provoking policemen. And, as Owen's further research suggests, it's either the "Kornwolf" of European legend ("still reviled as a spirit of vengeance, a curse of the fields") or the progeny of 16th-century German landowner and reputed incestuous cannibal Peter Stubbe. Or both. The resulting mayhem revolves around the local Amish community, led by tyrannical Minister Benedictus Bontrager, whose physically and emotionally abused son Ephraim is suspected of strange nocturnal misdeeds ("cow tipping" and much, much worse); a gang of louts known as the Crossbills; boxing coach Jack Stumpf, whose own demons are related to his Vietnam experience; and several ostensibly good country people with generations' worth of skeletons in their blood-stained closets. The book is heady, over-the-top fun for much of its considerable length, but its effect is diffused by a seemingly endless Walpurgisnacht finale that unimaginatively apes the kill-'em-all conventions of the teen slasher flick. Egolfhad talent to burn, but stringent editing should have whittled this burly haywire tale down to fighting weight. An unholy mess, but a ride well worth taking. And do look for the Kornwolf sooner or later at your nearby multiplex. Agent: Andrew Wylie/Wylie Agency

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Novel
By Tristan Egolf

Grove Atlantic, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Tristan Egolf
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8021-7016-1

Chapter One

At once, it was clear Ephraim and Jonathan had made a mistake. And terribly, irreversibly so-there was no way to angle the buggy around with a full lane of steadily oncoming traffic. Their own lane, devoid of an adequate shoulder, was backed up for three hundred yards from the Sprawl Mart-a ten-acre superstore complex-ahead.

An oncoming tour bus gradually slowed to a crawl on approaching Jonathan's buggy. Ephraim looked up to see walleyed Redcoats staring down on them. One of them slammed his head to the tinted window in mute incapacitation. The driver's voice came over the intercom: "Don't worry folks, these people are guaranteed nonviolent. Just try to remember: The camera steals their souls. So, if you must, try and shoot on the sly."

Flashbulbs exploded. Ephraim winced. He singled out one of the cameras and pointed. The Redcoat blinked, apparently startled. Ephraim threw him a middle finger and whirled on Jonathan, agitated, motioning: "Where's the stereo?" Jonathan glanced over one of his shoulders, into the boot. Ephraim followed his gesture and, presently, pulled up the battery-powered player. Then he inserted Reign in Blood.

Jonathan reached for the stereo, desperately trying to silence the roar.

But Ephraim, inwhite-knuckled rapture, blocked his attempt with a sweep of one leg and then went on, much to the shock of surrounding motorists (if equally geared to the protesters' cheering) to tighten the reigns, angle the buggy out into the oncoming lane, and charge.


Excerpted from Kornwolf by Tristan Egolf Copyright ©2005 by Tristan Egolf. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Kornwolf 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I tried so hard to like this book! I was more confused than entertained and so bogged down in really useless details that I simply didn't get it. I think I know what it was all about, but again, I'm not sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like Lord of the Barnyard, Egolf¿s brilliant first novel, Kornwolf could be argued to be autobiographical. It has been said by some who knew Egolf, that he contended with a demon constantly - depression. In May of 2005 the demon won. In this novel, the kornwolf is such a demon. It is a demon that empowers its host with enormous power and vision - but at a cost. As a reader of Kornwolf, I have experienced the full force of this power and vision. Tristan Egolf has paid the cost.