Holy Cow

Holy Cow

by David Duchovny


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A rollicking, globe-trotting adventure with a twist: a four-legged heroine you won't soon forget

Elsie Bovary is a cow, and a pretty happy one at that-her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighboring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God-and what the Box God reveals about something called an "industrial meat farm" shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core.

There's only one solution: escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Jerry-excuse me, Shalom-a cranky, Torah-reading pig who's recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave (in his own mind, at least) turkey who can't fly, but who can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport.

Elsie is our wise-cracking, pop-culture-reference-dropping, slyly witty narrator; Tom-who does eventually learn to fly (sort of)-dispenses psychiatric advice in a fake German accent; and Shalom, rejected by his adopted people in Jerusalem, ends up unexpectedly uniting Israelis and Palestinians. David Duchovny's charismatic creatures point the way toward a mutual understanding and acceptance that the world desperately needs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374172077
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 02/03/2015
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,167,187
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Duchovny is a beloved television, stage, and screen actor; as well as a screenwriter and director. He lives in New York and Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

Most people think cows can’t think. Hello. Let me rephrase that, most people think cows can’t think, and have no feelings. Hello, again. I’m a cow, my name is Elsie, yes, I know. And that’s no bull. See? We can think, feel, and joke, most of us anyway. My great- aunt Elsie, whom I’m named after, has no sense of humor. At all. I mean zero. She doesn’t even like jokes with humans in them doing stupid things. Like that one that goes— two humans walk into a barn . . . Wait, I may not have much time here, I can’t mess around.
        Just trying to get certain things out of the way. Let’s see, oh yeah, how am I writing this, you may wonder, when I have no fingers? Can’t hold a pen. Believe me, I’ve tried. Not pretty. Not that there are many pens around anymore, what with all the computers. And even though we can think and feel and be funny, we cannot speak. At least to humans. We have what you people used to call an “oral  tradition.” Stories and wisdom are handed down from mother cow to daughter calf, from generation to generation. Much the way you receive your Odysseys or your Iliads. Singing, even. Sorry for the name- dropping. Homer. Boom. I’ll wait while you pick it up.
        All animals can speak to one another in a kind of grunt, whistle, bark, and squeal, a kind of universal, beasty Esperanto: lion to lamb, bird to dog, moose to cat— except, really, who would ever want to have a lengthy conversation with a cat? Very narcissistic they are. But we, the animal kingdom, ain’t got no words or what you would call language. And yes, I know that was bad grammar just then, I was using that for emphasis. I’m not a marsupial. Marsupials are infamous for their inability to understand the rules of grammar (ever try to have a dialogue with a kangaroo? Nearly incomprehensible even if you can penetrate that accent, mate). And who knows what the hell fish are talking about. But I digress. That’s very bovine of me. Digression and digestion. It’s what we do. We cows have a lot of time on our hooves to chew the cud, as it were. We stand, we eat, we talk, maybe find a salt lick. It’s all good.
        At least it was all good. Till about two years ago. That’s when the story I’m telling pretty much begins. My life up until that point was idyllic. I was born on a small farm in upstate New York in the United States. The Bovary clan has been there since time began. My mother and my mother’s mother and her mother’s mother’s mother, etc. The fathers in cow families are pretty much absent. My dad, Ferdinand (I know), used to come around now and then, and I suppose that’s how I got all my brothers and sisters. But for the most part, the boys are kept separate from the girls. They like to stare at us from beyond the fence. Sometimes it’s a little creepy, to be honest. It’s like the boys are a different species, but I don’t judge. If I’ve learned anything in the past two years it’s not to judge. I guess what I’m saying is since the beginning of civilization, boys and girls have been kept separate, so we don’t expect anything different. It’s all I know so I don’t stand around wishing my dad were around.
        Humans love us. Or I thought so, we all thought so. They love our milk. Now personally, I think it’s a little weird to drink another animal’s milk. You don’t see me walking up to some human lady who just gave birth, saying, “Yo, can I get a taste?” Weird, right? Not gonna happen. It’s kinda nasty. But that’s why you love us. The ol’ milk. Leche. To each his own, I suppose. And every girl grows up knowing that every morning, the farmer is going to come and take our milk. Which is kind of a relief, ’cause we get swollen, and it can feel good to feel all sveltelike and streamlined again after a good milking. Yeah, we care about how we look. And we don’t appreciate it that when you people think someone is fat you call them a cow. And pigs aren’t very happy about the whole “pig” or “swine” thing, and chickens are pissed too about the “chicken” thing (which secretly makes me happy, ’cause roosters are the biggest pain in the haunches God ever created).
        Oh yeah, we believe in God. In the shape of a cow. Not really. Scared you, though, didn’t I? But we do believe something made all the somethings in the world— all the animals, animalcules, plants, rocks, and souls. And whether that Maker something is shaped like a cow, a pig, a person, an amoeba, or Jerry Garcia, we don’t really know and don’t care. We just believe there’s a force for life and creation out there. The closest thing people have to it is Mother Earth. But that’s just an approximation. And we don’t just believe these things, we know them. In our bones and in the bones of our ancestors who lie out there in Old Macdonald’s field somewhere.
        Man, I am one digressive cow. You’re gonna have to get used to it. Homer was pretty digressive too, wasn’t he? So I got a precedent there. Before I tell you what happened, let me give you a little more backstory, tell you what my life was like before the Event. That’s what I call it— the Event, or the Revelation, or the Day the Patty Hit the Fan. Let me set the scene. Give you some flavor.
        Life on a farm. It’s pretty chill. Spend a lot of time out in the field hanging with my bffs, getting the hairy eyeball from the bulls. The grass is green on our side, my mom always used to say. She was a great mom, but she disappeared one day, like all cow moms do.  We’re taught to accept that. That a mom is not forever and it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you if she leaves without saying goodbye once the job of raising you from a calf is done. And even though I know this is “the way things are” and “the way things always have been,” I still get a little choked up thinking about my mom. She was beautiful— big brown eyes, wicked sense of humor. Never left my side until one day she did. But I’ll get to that later. Give me a moment as I think about my mother. Feelings come and go, unless you don’t feel them. Then they stay, and hurt, and grow pear- shaped and weird. So when we cows have a feeling, we feel it, till the feeling passes. Then we moo-ve on. Boom. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Customer Reviews

Holy Cow 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a funny book! Very well written and insightful. I wasn't very familiar with Duchovny's work till recently but this book is simply fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very funny
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Meet Elsie Bovary, the cow. She and her friend, Mallory, learn how to open the gate of their enclosure. Immediately, Mallory heads directly to the bulls who have been flirting with her. Elsie is distracted by a farmhouse. She discovers that the family are all gathered around a glowing box “god” from which she discovers what happens to cows who live on farms. At first she suffers a deep depression, then, she learns about a land that worships cows. Surely she would be safe there. She, and some other animal friends who wish to escape being food for humans, start making a plan that will have you rolling with laughter. This book is Elsie’s narrative. She adds notes to her publisher throughout, which add to the hilarity. This book is purely for fun. But it does also present some good points. Duchovny, through his humorous story, points out the importance for respect and tolerance for all living things. This is a fun book that will make you laugh out loud. The audio book, read by the author, himself, is very well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel served as a full length animated feature film for my mind. As a lifetime reader, this was enjoyable and moderately quick read. Every moment spent with these adorable witty characters was filled with fun, kindness and smiles.
Carol Nelson More than 1 year ago
This was a strange read....but very funny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is tis the chatroom for stuff
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Somehow a cute, almost funny story was expanded into a truly bad novella. Proves any shmendrick can write a book but it takes a well know persona to have it published and reviewed in the NYT.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book that shows that animals do in fact desire to live full happy lives devoid of pain and suffering. Please do consider living a life based on comassion and empathy for your fellow earthlings, regardless of how you were programed to treat them.
Merns More than 1 year ago
I'm a David Duchovey fan. I'm an advocate of animal rights. This was one of the most difficult stories I've read in the last 5 yrs. It barely addresses the issue. Mostly just lame jokes and odd references. I was really, sadly disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the writing! Funny and touching.
elaineallen More than 1 year ago
Meh. I had high hopes for this, since in every interview they mentioned his Literature degree from Princeton. It was...cute. It was a LOT of cute with a few serious undertones here and there. I think it was a great idea, and if he had maybe expanded on some parts it could have been a pretty good book. This took me only a couple of hours to read, so they could make it into a movie if they embellish a little. It would be a good Wallace & Grommet kind of thing. I liked the characters and how they all had very distinct ways of speaking, but if an unknown first time author used that many cliches, they would be laughed out of the slush pile. The overall message about the grass not being greener is something we can all relate to, though I don't know if that was intended. There were a few too many current pop culture references and slang, that make it seem like it was written last month, and that could affect the books longevity. All in all, not bad. Not great. Didn't take took much time out of my life, so I could enjoy it like I would an Adam Sandler movie. It is fun and entertaining if you don't expect too much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Daniel-Lane More than 1 year ago
Duchovny, are you serious with this trash?