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Pyg: The Memoirs of Toby, the Learned Pig (Paperback)
A heartwarming debut introduces readers to the adventures of its overachieving porcine narrator
Blending the sophisticated satire of Jonathan Swift with the charming exuberance of a Pixar film, Pyg tells the story of Toby, a truly exceptional pig who lived in late eighteenth-century England. After winning the blue ribbon at the Salford Livestock Fair and escaping the butcher's knife, Toby tours the country, wowing circus audiences with his abilities to count, spell, and even read the minds of ladies (but only with their permission, of course). He goes on to study at Oxford and Edinburgh encountering such luminaries as Samuel Johnson, Robert Burns, and William Blake before finally writing his own life story. Quirky, beguiling, and endlessly entertaining, this memoir of a "remarkable sapient pig" is a sharp and witty delight.
About the Author
Russell Potter is a professor of English at Rhode Island College. Pyg is his first novel. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
“The protagonist and, as it were, first-porcine narrator of this quirky little book is a pig called Toby. . . . In Russell Potter’s magical rendering . . . he is not only a prescient pig but also a reflective one, with a Swiftian eye on mankind’s mores.” —The Washington Post
“Everything about Russell Potter’s debut novel Pyg indicated that it had potential to be a charming read but nothing prepared me for the totally immersion I felt. As each page seemed to fly by I found myself not only believing Potter was an immensely talented and capable author but that Toby, the learned pig who was the purported true ‘author’ of the book with Potter simply editing his porcine scribblings, was the damnedest pig I’d ever had the pleasure of getting to know. . . . Toby is a vibrant and amazingly alive and TRUE character that only comes once in a while in the very rarest of books and I simply do not have the words adequate to thank Mr. Potter for this book and for that magical pig’s entrance into my own imagination. He lives there now at the side of Peter Pan, Nicholas Nickleby, Harry Potter, and any other number of adventurous souls of fiction.” —Michael Jones, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Embracing the idiosyncracies of 18th-century italicization and capitalization practices, set in a nice Caslon Antique type, and with a 1798 woodcut illustration of a learned pig at the start of each chapter (a nice touch), this is not only a very entertaining and enjoyable read, but also a lovely little book. . . . Added bonuses are the cameo appearances by such literary luminaries as Samuel Johnson, William Blake, Anna Seward, and Robert Burns, and Potter's (Toby's) sharp sense of 18th-century style and sensibility. Deeply funny, brilliantly satirical and also just a darn good story.” —PhiloBiblos
“In this charming debut novel, Potter imagines—fully and movingly—the story of the ‘learned pig’ . . . . It’s a very clever roman à clef; Toby, with his earnest, understandable quest to be more than a source of amusement, animates this fable about enslavement, liberal education, and, perhaps, animal rights. The use of old-fashioned typography, capitalization, and woodcuts complement the 18th-century prose style, creating an immensely readable, clever, and fun novel.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is an Oxbridge pig; you might dub him an oinktellectual, a rational, shrewd observer of flawed humanity. Toby shines light on our human qualities, lending due distance to how we might view them: our capacity for loyalty, friendship, all the deadly sins, curiosity, fear of death, vulnerability and a yearning for recognition, whatever our worth. It is the most ordinary of tales, made extraordinary not by the ‘freakishness’ of its ‘author’ but by the humanity. Which is what captivates and touches, and makes the book worth reading.” —The Scotsman
“In prose that manages to be both dense and arch, Toby relates his escape from the butcher’s knife with the help of his friend Sam . . . all good clean fun.” —The Times (London)
“Written in a delightfully erudite, faux early 19th century prose . . . a multi-layered, rumbustious romp which the author pulls off cum laude.” —The Observer (London)
“A delicious book. A reminder of the risks, the drama and the quite extraordinary comedy of being born with a snout, four hooves, and a corkscrew tail.”—Marie Darrieussecq, author of Pig Tales