The Wolf & Taurus by Joseph Smith

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The Wolf & Taurus by Joseph Smith

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A combined edition of The Wolf and Taurus, each taking the reader into the mind of animal. Superb, intense writing that is sometimes quite painful to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0099546728

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The Wolf and Taurus are two novellas by Joseph Smith, presented here in a combined paperback edition. In each, Smith takes us completely into the mind of an animal. The writing is stunning: intense, sensuous, cruel and beautiful.

The Wolf

It's winter-time. Snow is on the ground, even in the dense forest. This winter seems to have lasted longer than previous ones and the wolf needs a meal, living perilously close to the point when hunger weakens it and it can no longer hunt. Then, it knows, it will die. Its senses sharpened, it drinks in its experiences, glorying in the landscape, the snow, the hunt, and above all, itself. The wolf knows what it is. It is a predator. It takes life and in many ways it sustains life. It sees deep into the eyes of its victims. It honours them, but it despises them too.

Beautiful and fatalistic this is a haunting glimpse into the mind of a predator. It's beautifully realised with not a word wasted.


As the bull goes from paddock to stall in the searing heat of the farm, he feels strangely disembodied - and yet all he feels is his body: his huge bulk; the angles at which he must hold up his heavy head to see what he needs to see; the strange latency that fills him. He watches the skittish grey horse, transfixed and yet repulsed by its grace and fluidity. He observes his captors, the girl and boy siblings and their father, and he allows their goadings to gradually wake him from stuporous apathy.

He approaches the violence inside him with the care of a lover, but nothing prepares him for the overwhelming joy he feels when it is eventually released, a release that will lead him to the corrida...

Beautiful and cruel, ancient and new, Taurus expands on Wolf by adding human cruelty into the mix. It's stunning but uncomfortable - and highly recommended. Read our full reviews of The Wolf here and Taurus here.

My thanks to the good people at Vintage for sending the book.

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