14 June 2012


Option 16: Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan
(Scroll down for the Rafflecopter and read the Giveaways page for more information)

"I'm sorry, Mr. Gallo, but I'm afraid our roster is full. We are no longer accepting applicants at this time."

"Not accepting? Well, what about that guy? He just came in and you hired him."

"Well, Mr. Gallo, we do make exceptions from time to time for people with . . . special skills."

"I've got special skills. EXCEPTIONAL skills. I'm a GOOD writer. I can write up a fantastic portfolio for your company. I know computers. I can design a kick-ass web site. I was looking at the one you currently have and PHEW! It could use a MAJOR overh--"

"MR. GALLO! I'm SORRY. But I don't think there's a place in this company for you."

"I see . . . It's because I'm a CHICKEN, isn't it?"

So . . . chickens. =P This is totally up Shredded Cheddar's alley. You have no idea. LOL!

But don't get the wrong idea, either. Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan is a serious novel. You may laugh at someone who asks you what you would do if one day all the chickens in the world became intelligent and self-aware . . . but it's actually a reasonable question.

At least it is in a world like ours. We do have a history in which people have been systematically treated worse than some animals, as well as a current debate on exactly when life begins and personhood can be recognized. Elmer, with its parallel world in which chickens and people live, work and study side by side, is a satire we richly deserve.

It has been a while since I last wrote an Ethical Animals post . . .

Yes, this is one of those "Talking Animals" books you know I love. No, it is not for children.

There are some elements of Elmer that are very unsettling--like the rooster surfing the Web for human porn (I think I know what this is satirising, but no need to confirm my hunch!) and the hen becoming engaged to a human suitor. Who wants to wrap his head around those logistics??? We probably don't, and neither do some of the characters.

Note that in Alanguilan's parallel world, chickens have been recognised as human by the United Nations and given the same rights as people. It's not an easy reality to swallow, although, about three decades after it becomes official, people and chickens are more at ease around each other--either trying to get along or gamely willing to pretend they already do. But the litmus test of true acceptance is in the romantic realm. Can we really say we accept the individuals in another group as our neighbours (not our equals, but our neighbours--for yes, there's a difference) when we would never want them to marry into our families?

And to anyone who might be sputtering at this, "But they're chickens! FClucking chickens!"--it is easy enough to say that not so long ago, some people were considered no better than animals because of traits as incidental as skin colour . . . and that even right now your personhood depends on what end of the birth canal you happen to be on. It is these, and not the occasionally bawdy satire of Elmer, which should really disturb us.

Now I ask again: If all the chickens in the world became intelligent and self aware . . . to the point at which they can beg you in your own language not to kill them . . . or the point at which they form their own terrorist groups in retribution for the killing of their kin . . . in other words, to the point that they become just like us . . . what would you do?

Would you treat them with kindness, respect and fairness in all your dealings with them . . . or would you side with Team People, even if it means the eradication of an entire species?

I wonder if anyone would blame you for picking the second choice. Chickens look so different from us, after all, and are so easy to kill . . . and if history tells us anything, it is that genocide has often been the easier option.

You should choose this book in the giveaway if . . . you can appreciate a dark satire.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image Source: Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan


Belfry Bat said...

IF I were the sort of person who entered these sorts of competitions, I might enter just to ask for this book. ... but I'm not.

Good luck to somebody!

Enbrethiliel said...


Saying you'd enter if you were the sort who enters is really almost as good as entering. So thanks, Bat! LOL!

Luckily for you, Elmer is one of those "local" books that's more popular abroad than in the country. You'll likely have an easier time getting it than many Filipinos will. Another reader who knew about this option in advance but isn't entering the giveaway, either, has already alluded to his Amazon cart. =P

christopher said...

Tell me that in their newly-discovered sentience, they have learned to control their bowel movements and I will gladly tell you that I'd gladly accept them as equals...

christopher said...

gladly :)

Enbrethiliel said...


They have perfect control over their bowel movements. =)

Sullivan McPig said...

You're adding this book just to mess with my mind, didn't you?

Enbrethiliel said...


You said it yourself: I'm evil! ;-)

(And I really can't deny that I had you in mind when I realised there was a place for Elmer in the pool!)

christopher said...

Slightly disappointed in ELMER but still a solid 3.5 stars. He could have done so much more with it...

christopher said...

Don't forget to add my +5 points as top commenter...

Enbrethiliel said...


I know what you mean about Elmer. I thought the sabong/cockfighting connection, in particular, had so much more potential. (Did we, with our breeding methods, create these self-aware chickens?) I also would have liked to see more chickens scandalised by the terrorist tactics of Gallus Rex, to the point that they identify with the innocent people who are hurt and help take some of their fellow chickens out.

christopher said...


Don't forget my top commenter points...

Enbrethiliel said...


Only after I had logged off last night did it hit me. Your Top Commenter strategy is brilliant. Everyone else leaves one wordy reply, but you have figured out that the way to get to the top is to divide a wordy comment into two shorter postings.

I'm so impressed. =P Your Top Commenter points are safe!