Holy Cow

Review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

I requested this copy from BookBridgr in exchange for an honest review.

As I prefaced in my Gillian Anderson review, how could I not read Duchovny’s book when I love The X Files (and what little I’ve seen of Californication). I must say, it’s not quite what I expected.


‘Elsie Bovary is a cow, and a pretty happy one at that—her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighboring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God—and what the Box God reveals about something called an “industrial meat farm” shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core.
There’s only one solution: escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Jerry—excuse me, Shalom—a cranky, Torah-reading pig who’s recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave (in his own mind, at least) turkey who can’t fly, but who can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport.’ GoodReads.

Holy Cow is not what I ever considered Duchovny would write. Although, this opinion of him is based on comic con panel footage and Fox Mulder, so not an accurate personality assessment in the slightest. It’s an amusing tale (although I think a lot of the humour went over my head) and easier to read than I was expecting.

Generally I’m not one for story’s with talking animals (this is why it’s taken me so long to start reading The Bees, which so many have praised) but, something about this endearing cow, Elsie, and her pig and turkey companions kept me reading. I think it was the loss of innocence, and the idea that were an animal cognitive it would be enraged over the carnivorous needs of humanity.

There appeared to be an intention to highlight the negativity of eating meat, and the consumption of technology and ‘screen staring’ we embrace as a culture. However, combined with humour, I felt preached to. I didn’t mind the criticism but presented as a rant it didn’t offer me anything, but a sense that both author and narrator were a touch condescending. Luckily, as of a few chapters in this fades and the allegory came together.

When done well, there is something fantastic about expressing human issues through the guise of animals. I do like that this is coming from an anthropological cow. Animals, like children or aliens, are able to vocalise the strange ‘logic’ of culture.

By the time I reached the last quarter, I finally felt as if the allegory was formed and I was meant to be seeing this story as something bigger than the simplistic tale I began reading. I felt rewarded for making it to the end of the book, which is always a pleasant feeling.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny is published in hardback by Headline and will be available on the 3rd February 2015.

2 thoughts on “Review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

  1. Interesting! I never would have seen this as something Duchovny would write either. The premise sounds a bit like Animal Farm to me (the whole farm-animals-as-allegory thing). Have you read that novel? Would you say there are similarities?


    1. I equated it to Animal Farm before I read it, but I’m not sure I would now I’ve finished it. It’s less about politics between animals and more about the treatment of animals by humans and the politics of humans they observe and try to make sense of.


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