Treat Us Like Dogs and We Become Wolves
It’s the height of summer, 1999, when the local newspaper, the Record Sun, receives numerous tip-offs from anonymous callers warning of violence, weapons stockpiling, and rampant child abuse at the nearby homeschool on Heart’s Content Road. Hungry for a big break into serious journalism, ingénue columnist Ivy Morelli sets out to meet the mysterious leader of the homeschool, Gordon St. Onge — referred to by many as “The Prophet.” Soon, Ivy ingratiates herself into the sprawling Settlement, a self-sufficient counter-culture community that many locals fear to be a wild cult. Despite her initial scepticism — not to mention the Settlement’s ever-growing group of pregnant teenage girls — Ivy finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gordon.
Meanwhile, across town, Brianna, a gifted and disturbed teen with wild orange hair, paints her political and personal visions. At the behest of her brothers, Brianna joins the community. As her complicated, awkward relationship with Gordon unfolds, Brianna reveals herself to be a shy, yet passionate, individual, with a strange and troubling sexual past.
As the newcomers are drawn deeper into Settlement life, Gordon’s powerful magnetism and strange duality are exposed, and those rumors that led to his initial investigation seem, at times, to be all too possible realities. When the Record Sun finally runs its piece on Gordon, the exposure has a startling and unexpected effect on Settlement life and the world beyond it.
Sophie Baker manages the translation rights for Treat Us Like Dogs and We Become Wolves
Carolyn Chute's quirky, intensely original novel, is an intellectual page-turner. Tayari Jones
At turns funny, moving, and disturbing, this book will challenge readers to check their assumptions about how people choose to live in today’s society.
Chute’s latest is a complex, multi-layered story worth digging into, which explores, among other things,
poverty, democracy in America, and the role of community in helping those living on the fringe of society
take even the tiniest steps forward.
The plot, the prose and the political pronouncements are as over-the-top as they often are in Chute's work—which by no means negates the value of her career-long mission to show the elite what people at the bottom of the heap think of the American dream. Bottom line: They're not fooled.
Carolyn Chute is a James Joyce of the back-country, a Proust of rural society, an original in every meaning of the word. She inhabits everyone in her creation, sees everything that goes on within it. Bill Roorbach
The New York Times
Chute, a long time political activist and champion of social justice, writes like a wild animal - ferocious, playful - making mincemeat of contemporary mores. Plenty to gnaw on here.