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Holy Cow: A Novel Hardcover – Feb 3 2015

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Feb. 3 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374172072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374172077
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[Duchovny's] zany, madcap first novel, Holy Cow . . . is a seriously entertaining fable that doesn't take itself too seriously . . Duchovny is a witty writer, and he's especially good at conjuring these oddball voices.” ―John Wilwol, The Washington Post

“For one of the most engaging allegorial tales since Animal Farm, look no further than the surprising debut from Hollywood star Duchovny. His tale of Elsie, an American cow who learns the truth about her fate, is filed with humor and relevance.” ―Time Out, Critics' pick

“Who knew a cow's view of the world was so funny yet so honest and true? Holy Cow is silly and fun from the opening page.” ―Jeff Ayers, The Denver Post

“This is the best cow-based theological odyssey of all time. A hybrid of Joyce's Ulysses and beef. Elsie Bovary is a modern day Damona.” ―Craig Ferguson

“David Duchovny is a very smart and wryly entertaining actor, and now, novelist. Although I will never publicly admit to jealousy, I am having him killed.” ―Rob Lowe

“David Duchovny's witty invention of the charming, brave and smart-mouthed Elsie Bovary guarantees that his Swiftian fable about a cow, a pig and a turkey's hilarious and moving farm-break to save themselves from the cruelty of human consumption is a literary feast no reader can resist.” ―Rafael Yglesias, author of A Happy Marriage

“*Starred review* "[Duchovny's] debut novel is a charming fable about dignity and tolerance, complete with anthropomorphized animals and replete with puns, double-entendres and sophisticated humor . . . Between the book's sly humor, gently humanist (animalist?) message and wry illustrations by Natalya Balnova, this is a pseudo-children's book that smart adults should greatly enjoy. An offbeat adventure that reads like Bill Willingham's Fables directed by Ralph Bakshi.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“wide-eyed and playfully juvenile . . . [Holy Cow] is refreshing to read.” ―Matt Haig, The Guardian

About the Author

David Duchovny is a television, stage, and screen actor, as well as a screenwriter and director.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing, Ribtickling, enjoyable, rollicking & riotous fable with a message from the animals to mankind without being too proselytizing. I especially loved the lingo used by Elsie cow to converse with her BFF Mallory and later with Shalom the peace making pig( who is also a nervous pooper) and Tom the gizmo wielding Turkey. David Duchovny, thanks for writing such a wonderful fable much appreciated. A must read book, by all means! Absolutely loved it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So enjoyable! A quick and engaging read, wonderful story with a very important message. Told without preaching, just a well thought out and adorable storyline with loveable and thoughtfully developed characters! You will fly through it, it's so good!
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Format: Hardcover
Funny and whimsical, yet poignant. A great read that delivers a very important message. Everyone should read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa2135e10) out of 5 stars 243 reviews
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0bcb30c) out of 5 stars Holy Cow is a whimsical tale about friendship, religion and the human race as seen through the remarkably insightful eyes of a c Feb. 3 2015
By Z. de Ruiter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Holy Cow is a whimsical tale about friendship, religion and the human race as seen through the remarkably insightful eyes of a cow by the name of Elsie Q. (and communicated to her cow-author, American actor David Duchovny).

Elsie is a fairly happy cow living on a farm in the US. She spends her days getting milked, sleeping, eating and gossiping with her BFF Mallory about the bulls, which they feel increasingly interested in. Though her mum disappeared, she knows that all cow mums do so at some stage and she's otherwise pretty content with her unremarkable life. Until The Event.

In a bout of curiosity, Elsie wanders up to the farm house and through the window she watches a shocking documentary on the Box God about the meat industry, which makes it horrifyingly clear what has really happened to her mum and what will happen to her as well if she stays on the farm.

Elsie realises that the only way to escape her terrible fate of being turned into burger patties is to travel to India, where cows are worshiped rather than slaughtered. Several other animals on the farm - a Jewish pig, who refers to himself as Shalom, and a anorexic turkey called Tom - find out about Elsie's plan and decide to join her pilgrimage to escape similar fates. They don human disguises, practice walking on two legs and head for the airport.

It all sounds absolutely mad and it certainly is, but the story is also incredibly clever. Interspersed with remarkably spot on cow-humour and a heavy dose of pop culture references, Holy Cow provides a brutally honest insight into the human perception of the world and our privileged place at the top of the food chain. It managed to make me think and that wasn't what I was expecting from a story focused on a trio of farm animals on a bonkers mission to escape the barbeque.

On top of that, this is one of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure to read. I gigglesnorted my way through the first few chapters on the train - receiving some interesting looks from fellow passengers - after which the story did became a more serious social commentary, but it never lost the charming, comical voice of Elsie. Who knew that actor David Duchovny could channel a cow so accurately? That's some X-Files right there.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0bcb33c) out of 5 stars Readable Feb. 11 2015
By Dan Thompson, Author - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What a quick read; I hardly noticed the pages slip by. I must admit, a few pages in and I thought: OK, I'm not sure I'm going to get into this, but you know what, I did. I lapped up Elsie's moralistic yarn of animals discovering what humans do to farm animals.

I questions the audience though - Duchovny points out numerous times in the narrative that this book can appeal to all ages, but I disagree. Circumcision and expletives are enough cause for concern, but a child would simply miss the political and religious undertones that run throughout the novel.

I also found the book overly Americanised. Despite being set on an American farm, the speech was too clichéd and suffered from too many one-liners. Wit is great when used for effect, not when it appears on every page. I also found the constant references to American pop culture a little heavy and an easy way to disengage foreign markets, such as over here in the UK.

Saying that, Holy Cow made me laugh in places, and once you get past the whole animals dressing up in disguises, faking German accents and using iPhones and Google maps, it turns out to be an easy, enjoyable read. An almost modern fairytale. It isn't brilliant storytelling, but by the end, very readable.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa054512c) out of 5 stars Deep, Thoughtful and Hilarious Feb. 5 2015
By albion - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

Its been a while since I've been excited enough for a book to participate in a pre-order. (Deathly Hallows.)I wanted this book the day it came out and not a moment later. Initially my interest was sparked by the author, I'm not going to lie. I'm a long time fan of Duchovny. That being said, with all the excitement I knew I had to be hard on this book for that very reason.

I need not have worried.

The premise of the novel, the three animals searching for an escape from their inevitable fate as dinner (among other things)for humans, seems simple enough. However this story is really anything but simple. On the surface "Holy Cow" is a hilarious, irreverent allegory that pokes fun and stretches the imagination (case in point, Tom the turkey flying a plane). The story, I believe is targeted for all ages, was an easy read and I would not hesitate to allow my kids to read it.

There were several 'laugh out loud' moments for me, including Joe/Shalom's delightfully impertinent observation that "Jews are just Christians with longer sideburns. And a better sense of humor". The pop culture references (and the explanation thereof) and the fact that Mallory the cow has the vocabulary of a teenage girl were highly amusing, especially when read out loud to my co-workers.

If one wished to, one could leave it at that and chalk this novel up to a delightful, witty and outlandish talking animal story, and keep going.

I, personally, found many parts of this novel to actually be deep, philosophical, political, environmental and cultural. The underlying notion that indeed animals are more than just mindless masses who exist only to feed, clothe and amuse the human race really gets you thinking. As does Elsie's description of the "Box God" and the way the whole human family is mesmerized by it, "What a strange god that instead of bringing people together, divides them.". Through Elsie's eyes, humans look like heartless, selfish greedy and pathetic creatures and I'm not so sure I disagree with her bovine view of the world. Elsie, Shalom, Tom and even Joe the camel really don't pull any punches about humans and how we consume everything we touch. There really is no end to our cruelty.

I think for me, the moment where Elsie realizes that her lost mother was actually taken off to be slaughtered and butchered really hit home, the fog of depression she finds herself in, the horror she feels, the pain and the loss. It's written simply but it hurts to read it. The banging of her head against the wall, her inability to really even comprehend the horror of her future, and her inability to do anything about it is a hard hitting moment.

The fact that by an "accident" Joe and Shalom begin a peace process between Palestine and Israel may seem a little far fetched, but they do have a point. Coming together against a common enemy or hatred is something that humans excel at, for better or worse. In this case that common factor just happens to be poor Shalom.

Tom's moment in the plane, looking out the window really got to me, his tears as he looked at the ground far below. His dream to fly has come true, though not in the way he expected. This was perhaps one of the most poignant moments in the book. This also seems to be another theme running through the story, these animals dream of a better life and they get what they wanted, but its not quite what they expected or perhaps, in the end, even wanted. Shalom's realization that he doesn't want to live safe but reviled, and Elsie's that she doesn't want to compromise her ideals in order to be worshipped after all really drive that point home. There's a strong "the grass isn't always greener" lesson to be learned here.

I think my favorite part in the entire book is the scene on the beach in India with the "Goddess Cows" and the "Silly Cows" (there is mention of drug use here but its pretty mild and would probably go over the heads of most younger audiences). This part was honestly so profound it moved me to tears. The fact that Elsie saw all people/animals as the same. To her, religious differences didn't exist, she wasn't better or different because of a religious belief and neither was anyone else, animal or human. Her unfaltering loyalty to her friends in the face of the "Goddess Cows" and their superiority really moved me. And her unwavering response to all of this _ "I. Am. An. Animal."

Aren't we all?

Buy, borrow, do what you can, but read this book! You won't regret it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Lisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
What a book!😂 very funny, filled to the brim with pins, which I loved. Refreshing to read something really different.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By J Stanley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I guess I should take a lesson from the book and not judge (if that was the lesson?) but it was so not my kind of humor. I think a middle school or early high school age person might think it was pretty funny because it was that kind of humor. To each his own, but that was just my opinion. I had hoped it was a message kind of book about acceptance, but I just didn't get that at all from it. It was more just silly.

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