Today I am reviewing Pigskin (Published February 26th 2021) By David Hartley. Happy Publication Day! A big thank you to the publishers Fly on the Wall Press for my copy to review, always appreciated.
This short story is a part of The Fly on the Wall shorts season. Every two months for a year starting from February 26th 2021 they are publishing a short story with a social message to be found in each one. Find out more details here.
Something strange is happening to the animals on the farm.
A pig becomes bacon, chickens grow breadcrumbs, a cow turns to leather, a goat excretes cheese. As food becomes scarce and the looming ‘pot-bellies’ threaten to invade the safety of the sty, Pig knows he must get to the bottom of this strange phenomenon or face imminent death. Reminiscent of Animal Farm and darkly satirical, David Hartley interrogates the ethics of farming and the potential problems of genetic engineering, asking important questions about our relationship to the food – or animals – we eat.
A small note of warning dear reader, this short story is not for the faint hearted. With vile, stomach-turning imagery presented throughout, you may not want to be eating when you read this horrific tale. I wasn’t sure what to exactly expect. With each new book I read, I go in with an open and clear mind.
Hartley uses vivid imagery that gives the story a gritty and grimy feel. This farm is not one you will find depicted in children’s picture books with the lushest green fields and happy singing animals. Oh no dear reader, think more Animal Farm meets Hannibal Lector.
The reader meets Pig, who sizzles in the summer heat. His skin is bacon, his brain is pork and his face is ham. The other animals all want a bite; just a nibble, as they are starving. They are not the important ones, the ones the farm wants. They have been forgotten, the farm is a gone land.
Among the animals there is Cow, who has learned the human language and taught the others, which in turn makes her believe she is now the boss. Pig never did and makes his points the way animals should. Cow says they must stand together while Pig dreams of green.
Hartley takes the reader on a dark, twisted tale where chickens have breadcrumbs for feathers and everyone wants a bite of pig’s sweet, tasty bacon. The disturbing imagery of animals being driven to starvation and eating each other is one that sticks clearly in your mind throughout the story. It reflects our own desires and needs for such forbidden fruit and how far we are willing to go to satisfy these needs.
Hartley cleverly explores our relationship with animals with dark comedy and hard hitting truths that are difficult to swallow. Every day animals are made to suffer in over-cramped cages, unkempt living conditions and with a bare minimal of food to survive on. All to feed the masses and our overstuffed pot-bellies. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth but opens your eyes to the greed of our species.
I give Pigskin By David Hartley a Three out of Five paw rating.
Bizarre and striking imagery that will make you grimace at the cruel hands of injustice. This short story is not afraid to stray from the path of normality and create its own dirt-ridden, hoof trodden track off to the side. I know one thing for sure: I won’t be eating bacon now for a long, long time.
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Reblogged this on Isabelle Kenyon: Writer and Editor and commented:
A vegan noir from Manchester short story writer Dr. David Hartley!