Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book defies easy description by the plain simple fact that it transcends itself, over and over.
I mean, it starts out with Doctor Rat, a grant-subsidized scientist performing experiments on other animals in a way that seems like a diatribe against animal experimentation, but along with his poetry and his singing, he goes well beyond that kind of tale by out-doing the sheer evil of the Nazi scientists in WWII, becoming an anti-revolutionary bastion, and out Darth Vadering Darth Vader.
Did I laugh my head off at the point where he had his commentaries about human musicians pulling a David Attenborough on the whales while they waxed rhapsodic about how smart they were? Yes!
But when we get to a full revolution (remember, this book came out in 1977) of the animals versus the humans, with Doctor in his finest, most horrific mode, this book becomes a full world-war as tragic, scary, and bats**t insane as any of the best war documentaries. It's bloody, full of truly terrible biological warfare, and when whole battalions of elephants get... hey! Well... no spoilers... it's... brilliant. Disgusting. And amazing.
This satire goes WELL beyond its humble beginnings and skewers everything it touches.
Oh, and it makes a good case to stop castrating rats. Just imagine... if this one rat had not been castrated, then so much tragedy could have been avoided...
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