chuteCarolyn Chute’s new book Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Becomes Wolves is one the most memorable books of 2014. It’s a book that comes in at a whopping 691 pages including acknowledgements, but it is a book that is worth the effort, even though the cast of characters include Big Brother, space aliens, journalists, militia members, The FCC and the forests of planet earth. I’ve always loved Carolyn Chute because you know that you’ll be going a journey where things are laid out for you and you can either love or hate it but you’ll never forget it.
This novel is the second part of a trilogy (I did not read the first part The School on Heart’s Content Road, but plan to after writing this review)  Treat Us Like Dogs is set up with each new section bearing a picture that states who is talking. The bulk of the novel is about a journalist  named Ivy Morelli who works for the newspaper Record Sun, and Gordon St. Onge, a person who in charge of a settlement that has comparisons to a cult with him being the leader. Ivy is there to investigate what the settlement is all about and whether children or adults are being abused there. Gordon lets her have access to the compound to see for herself. The tension in the story is whether something sinister went down and when and if there is something, what it will do to the community living there.
We also get the view from Claire St. Onge who is estranged from Gordon St. Onge. Ms. Chute puts her political view on things and holds nothing back. Being a bit of a lefty myself there were times when I was saying to myself that this is a book for Democrats and then at other times I was like this is a book for Republicans. I also think this was her intention. She is happy with neither party and wants things to change. Sound familiar?
As you turn the pages you have this love hate relationship with Gordon because he is a complex man who you probably haven’t seen in the pages of fiction. The book’s central theme of the book seems to be cults and how everybody is unwillingly part of one whether they realize it or not. The cult of TV, your phone, your government, your priest, a celebrity, or even a leader like Gordon St. Onge. Most of us would probably deny that we would ever belong to a cult or could be tricked into joining one. Ms. Chute by the end of the novel really makes you look at yourself and say are your already in one now and don’t know it.
Ms. Chute who lives in Maine lives with no phone, computer, and has an outhouse in lieu of a bathroom according to her Wikipedia page. As you read this novel you kind of have the feeling that she believes a lot of what she is writing about her characters. Not many writers with mainstream publishers  would write books the way she writes them due to the fact that they may put people off. Her bravery in writing the way she does is why her novel The Beans of Egypt Maine is an American classic. I wish more writers would be as brave as her. I’m sure living the way she does gives her the chance to experience the rawness of life and get us to open our eyes to what we are doing to the world. I am for one grateful that she wrote this book. Will certainly be on my top ten list of 2014. Woof!