War Against the Animals
by Paul Russell
St. Martin’s Press. 358 pages, $24.95
THE PREMISE of Paul Russell’s fifth novel, War Against the Animals, quickly unspools to reveal a storyline that’s clearly intended to goose the reader’s sex drive. Cameron, a wealthy, middle-aged gay man, hires a pair of chiseled, blue-collar men—brothers, in fact—to renovate his dilapidated barn. With military haircuts, glistening, hairless bodies, and corn-fed good looks, both appear to have been plucked from central casting at Falcon Studios. Kyle is the crude, lewd older brother, Jesse the quiet, introspective younger one. Readers familiar with Paul Russell’s writing (Sea of Tranquility, The Coming Storm) will soon recognize in this novel the faint, persistent beat of loneliness and isolation that throbs through all of this author’s work.