Scowler by Daniel Kraus: A Wiener Reader's Book Review

I’m both embarrassed and excited to report that my new book club is ah-may-zing! It might just be the most bizarre and fantastic organization I’ve ever been a part of in my entire LIFE, and that’s saying something because I’ve seen and done and been amidst some whacked out wonkiness in my 43 years. You see, my book club is different than most, as there are only four members, two of which are canine, and the only other human in the club doesn’t even know he’s in a club at all!

I KNOW! You don’t even have to tell me what you are thinking because I KNOW! It’s glorious and you feel oddly jealous, yet at the same time afraid and amused. I KNOW.

Most people I know either like me because they have known me for a long time and don’t know any different, or they are happy to be entertained by what most people consider merely harmless quirk that is tolerable in small doses. I’m super-duper cool with both of these forms of liking, but I’ve always felt a smidge of sadness that I’ve never been invited to be in a book club.

Not only have I never been invited to participate in a book club, (not counting the Bible Study that kicked me out because it turned out I was a “fake Lutheran”) I have also never started a book club on my own, and this is INSANELY WEIRD considering how much I read. I mean, shit motherfuckers, I read a minimum of two books a week and have done so for the last 35 years of my life!

So back to the book club…

We are – drum roll please - THE WIENER READERS!

My son, the human who doesn’t know he’s in the club, has a wiener. The dog members of the club, whom I think have some idea that they are part of something special, (as evidenced by the sweet talking and snuggling) are both dachshunds, A.K.A. wiener dogs. Me? Well, I don’t have a wiener myself, but I very much enjoy my husband’s wiener on the regular and I love everything about the idea of meat squashed up in a casing making for easy eating – hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, knackwurst – dephuckinglicious!

I KNOW.

How can this be a club if one of the members doesn’t know he’s a member and the other members are wiener dogs? Because I say it can - Because I talk to them and they talk to me – Because nobody else I know reads as fast and furiously as I do, and even the people I know who do read, don’t seem to like the kind of books I like, so how the fuck else am I going to be in a book club if I don’t create my own version of one?

I KNOW.

Exactly. It’s impossible, hence the creation of THE WIENER READERS. I mean, I could ask my son if he wanted to be an official member, but he’s 13 and I’m willing to bet you a beef brisket he wouldn’t embrace the concept. However, he will still talk with me about books and he’s the one who recommended the last book I read, a book called, Scowler, by Daniel Kraus. I could tell that Brody, the wiener with a wiener, was totally into the story, because he kept sticking his face in the book and licking my neck while squirming around on my lap. He just couldn’t sit still because dang – waves of adrenaline were coursing through my veins as I devoured the story – and he could feel the excitement.

Brody was exhausted by the end! It's quite a story! Two woofs way up.

Brody was exhausted by the end! It's quite a story! Two woofs way up.

Scowler is not an easy book to read and I do not recommend it for most 13 year-old boys. My 13 year-old boy is a serious minded kid with the soul of some ancient spiritual guru who most likely held court around a roaring fire, telling stories and jokes while cooking meat on a stick. The kid loves meat. And he loves books.

The lady at the bookstore gave me the 411 on the book and made sure that I was aware it contained graphic violence and strong language. She was concerned it might not be appropriate for someone as young as my son and I am grateful to her for taking the time to let me, the parent, know a little about the content, giving me a heads up in case I might not want my kid to be exposed to the harsh reality of the story (YAY Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville for looking out for the kiddos!). And she was right on. Scowler is a raw, brutal, honest tale, laced with profanity. Kraus doesn’t skirt around the abuse, merely alluding to it using subtle references to blood or describing the instruments of torture. Nope! No skirting. He slams into your mind and soul with a story that is terrific, terrible and triumphant.

I would not recommend this book to any of my son’s friends. Not a ONE. Not yet. I also would not recommend this book to any of my friends. Not a ONE. They are all too sparkly and fresh, not dark and twisty like ol’ Nikki. My friends like trashy reality television, shopping for the perfect shoes, Candy Crush Saga and countless other bright and joyful things like vacations and musicals and books with happy endings. My friends are shiny and full of light. I am the dark one and that's why we aren't in a book club, you see? That's why I had to create The Wiener Readers.

Much like my weird and rude blog, Scowler is a story that is not for sissies. Scowler is however, a very important story that smacks of reality. The therapist in me was captivated, yet the mother in me was unnerved to the point of hyperventilation, so grateful that my son’s childhood has been long and safe, that he never knew anything of the life described so vividly in the story. But like me, my son isn’t afraid of the dark and disturbing truths about humanity. He craves the chaos of a good story that won’t let him pause for sleep until he’s consumed the conclusion and melded the characters into his memory.

We have discussed the book at one of our meetings (that he didn’t know was an official Wiener Reader’s meeting, although all members were in attendance) and I’m glad to report that although Scowler was rough on our hearts, we are both better for having lived awhile between the pages of this mortifying yet magnificently told tale.

Rest in peace, Sniggety. See you at the Rainbow Bridge.

P.S. This is not, I repeat NOT a paid review, nor was I asked to review this book. The Wiener Readers just want to start sharing the stuff we are reading.

Next Wiener Reader's review coming soon - Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

Three of the Wiener Readers catching some ZZZZzzzzzzzzzs

Three of the Wiener Readers catching some ZZZZzzzzzzzzzs

P.P.S. My book is good too. Have you bought it? Read it? Shared it? Well, you should. And you should subscribe to my blog. BOOM!

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