Southeast Missouri State University Press

The Man with Wolves for Hands

Juan Eugenio Ramirez

Publication: September 30, 2022
Pages: 132

With panting, slobbering wolves where his hands should be, The Man with Wolves for Hands builds shelves, attends an HR meeting, gets drunk in a kiddie pool with his friend The Cowboy, and stumbles into a bacchanalian wake, held in a forest clearing, for a deceased soldier. In The Man with Wolves for Hands, Metaphor folds into allegory, folds into psychological exploration, folds into a meditation on trauma and struggle. These vignettes about a man and his lupine hands explore what it means to be compassionate in a world where perception is tenuous and morality fluid. Elements of myth and folklore anachronistically color the narrative creating a story that winds itself through both the present and some distant, primordial past. Perhaps the spirit of The Man with Wolves for Hands can best be summed up with the some words from Bob Lyle: “The best art raises questions. It doesn’t answer them. Hell, if that were the case, we’d still be happy as hunter and gatherers, scrapin’ up a clean and naive livin’, our cave paintings only reports and totally meaningless with no need to progress, no need for metaphor, which, my friend, is the only magic we humans truly possess.” Saepe peccamus!

*****

Juan Eugenio Ramirez renders the colorful denizens and stark strangeness of the Sunshine State with a poet’s eye and an absurdist’s heart. Weirdly funny and wildly fun, The Man with Wolves for Hands is a marvel of a novel. Ramirez might be our new Harry Crews—or maybe our Lorca. —Ryan Ridge, author of New Bad News and American Homes

The Man with Wolves for Hands blends origin myths and apocalyptic revelations, feral fairy-tale and sharp-toothed satire, whimsical daydreams and vivid nightmares. Weird fiction just got wilder—and more beautiful. —Annie McClanahan author of Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture

A man leads his life with a wolf attached to each of his arms. We see him mowing the lawn, building a bookshelf, sipping coffee and Old Crow, often with unsuccessful assistance from the wolves. The narrative proceeds, the man somehow navigates an absurd world in this absurd body, encountering a cast of various characters: a chef, a teacher, a cowboy, a storytelling doctor, and a Golden Minstrel. Ramirez is a master of the particular ( yes, the devil’s in the details). He describes a “kirtle of lichen” and the filth under the cowboy’s fingernails, for example. And many of his lines read like stage instructions, drawing out and emphasizing the enormity of mastering what is second nature to us. There are paeans to his father and childhood, and a mockery of health insurance reps, both of which lighten the mood. Part Kafkaesque, picaresque, burlesque, farce, and memoir, this preposterous, yet fully imagined novel is a real gem.—Sarah Gorham, author of Alpine Apprentice and Bad Daughter

Trade Paper, $18.00
ISBN: 9781733015370

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