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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)
Mark Bramhall, Lev Grossman

When the Killing's Done

When The Killing's Done - Anthony Heald, T.C. Boyle

This is the book that led me to finding Goodreads. I was doing a search on the title and "vegan" because I was surprised (and disappointed, to be honest) that Dave LaJoy, the character who founded and ran the fictional For the Protection of Animals, was not one. The first time this is revealed, he is complaining bitterly about how his eggs are prepared. Later, there is a scene that acknowledges that this presents an inconsistency:


That was the day he gave up meat, cold turkey, and where did that expression come from? Of course, he still needed protein, especially since he was lifting at the gym, and so he continued to incorporate eggs and dairy in his diet, though he knew all about the battery hens in the egg-laying factories, how they're fed the remains of the male chicks, which are otherwise useless to the industry, how they're subjected to forced molting (that is, they're periodically denied food for six to ten days and then brought back on diet as a way of forcing ovulation), and how after a year they're played out and sent to slaughter. Anise is on him all the time about it--not to mention his cardiologist--but eggs are his one concession to the system, to cruelty. He means to change. He wants to change. Anise is a vegan and he's moving that way, he is, but it's hard, because through all his bachelor days from his divorce on up to the present, it's been eggs that sustained him.

Later still, we learn that eggs are not his "one concession," as he eats fish. Anise chides him with "If you're going to commit to vegetarianism, you can't go halfway, Dave." So Boyle himself clearly knows the difference. And yet the character Alma Boyd Takesue is identified as a vegetarian, and she turns out to be a pescetarian.

So where am I going with this? It just surprises me that Anise appears to be the one and only vegan in the entire novel. Even the other activists who associate with Dave LaJoy seem to be on the dairy, eggs, and fish train. I understand that Boyle was making a statement about hypocrisy, but must they all be hypocrites? In my experience, you will find more vegans than non-vegans represented in such groups. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I will reveal that I am a vegan, so this makes me more sensitive about such issues.)

Boyle is one of my favorite authors, and I still liked this novel enough to give it three stars (but he is usually a four/five-star author for me). Although he often claims not to write polemics, but rather throw out situations and allow the readers to make up their minds, it seemed clear to me that his sympathies lie with Alma Boyd Takesue, the biologist with the National Park Service whose plans to eradicate non-indigenous species in the islands off the coast of California pit her against Dave LaJoy. She is the rational one whose motives are based on science, and he is the irrational extremist whose methods only underscore his afore-mentioned hypocrisy. In certain respects, this novel will remind readers of The Tortilla Curtain and, especially, A Friend of the Earth. The latter got into the realm of eco-terrorism, with a main character every bit as extreme as Dave LaJoy. (I wonder if Boyle is aware that there are vegans who believe in non-violent vegan education. He needs to read some Gary Francione!)