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Open Throat
Open Throat: A Novel | Henry Hoke
22 posts | 18 read | 13 to read
"Open Throat is a blinding spotlight beam of a book that I was completely unable and unwilling to put down. I am not convinced Henry Hoke isnt a mountain lion." Catherine Lacey, author of Pew A lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion narrates this star-making fever dream of a novel. A queer and dangerously hungry mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. Lonely and fascinated by humanitys foibles, the lion spends their days protecting the welfare of a nearby homeless encampment, observing obnoxious hikers complain about their trauma, and, in quiet moments, grappling with the complexities of their gender identity, memories of a vicious father, and the indignities of sentience. I have so much language in my brain, our lion says, and nowhere to put it. When a man-made fire engulfs the encampment, the lion is forced from the hills down into the city the hikers call ellay. As the lion confronts a carousel of temptations and threats, they take us on a tour that spans the cruel inequalities of Los Angeles and the toll of climate grief, while scrambling to avoid earthquakes, floods, and the noise of their own conflicted psyche. But even when salvation finally seems within reach, they are forced to face down the ultimate question: Do they want to eat a person, or become one? In elegiac prose woven with humor, imagination, sensuality, and tragedy, Henry Hokes Open Throat is a marvel of storytelling, a universal journey through a wondrous and menacing world told by a lovable mountain lion. Both feral and vulnerable, profound and playful, Open Throat is a star-making novel that brings mythmaking to real life.
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Larkken
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Pickpick

I've been...Not great?.. in posting my reads lately, & I'm not sure what's worth posting now 🤪
Case in point: March! Well, at least my fav (tagged) should get a shout out. Spot on cougar narration, man! If they were to do things like narrate, that is.
+ I'm impressed I got through so many #tob2024/#LitsyToB24 selections! I plan to continue with those lists, but possibly not very diligently, given that the tournament-immediacy is, um, over.

BarbaraBB Haha no hurry indeed! However, CampLitsy is approaching 😀😀 1mo
Larkken @BarbaraBB exactly! So many new shinies to get into instead 😇😍 1mo
25 likes2 comments
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BkClubCare
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Pickpick

Well, THIS has to be the shortest fastest ToB read I have ever experienced! I wish I would have known it would only take me one sitting; I would have devoured it at a bookshop and returned it to the shelf. LOL maybe not… #ToB24 #novella #LibraryBook [Book 15 of 2024] ⛰️🦁

Soft pick, entertaining in a way that fits my mood today.

dabbe 🖤🐾🖤 3mo
AvidReader25 I just read this one too. I don‘t know why, but I‘ve read a string of books narrated by animals recently, but I didn‘t plan it that way. 🤣 3mo
BkClubCare @AvidReader25 - it‘s kind of fun when books have linked coinky-dinks… 3mo
41 likes3 comments
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fredthemoose
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Fun, quick novel told from the POV of a mountain lion living in the hills above LA, his inner thoughts, drives, and interactions with humans.

Reggie I‘m so happy that they went to Disneyland! 3mo
44 likes1 comment
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ImperfectCJ
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Mehso-so

A quick, relatively enjoyable read, but like others, I found that the level of anthropomorphizing took away from the impact. The idea that a mountain lion would consider attacking a large adult man rather than a child out of principle made me raise one eyebrow. I like the premise, but I think Hoke might have tried to do too much with it.

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triplem80
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Pickpick

From the marketing copy: “A lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion narrates this star-making fever dream of a novel.“ Indeed!

This was a really fast read -- even though I had to go back and re-read a few sections because I was so confused about what was going on! If you're looking for conventional storytelling, this is definitely not for you, but if you're open to something outside of the box, it's worth checking out.

22 likes5 comments
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AvidReader25
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Mehso-so

This novel from the point of view of a mountain lion in the Hollywood Hills, surprised me with its tenderness. The lion is based on the real P-22, but we see people and dangers through his eyes. He wants to be a part of the world as much as he's confused by it. Pax, a novel from the POV of a fox, hit me more deeply, but that's probably because I read it first.

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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

I think it‘s wildly creative to write a book from the perspective of a mountain lion and use the narrative to show the hypocrisy of human beings and the truth about climate change. Because of that, I‘m giving this a pick, and most of it is great, but it veered too far into anthropomorphism and lost a lot of its impact as a result. #tob24

DocBrown @Hooked_on_books I really appreciate your dedication to reading diverse and challenging books! 4mo
44 likes1 comment
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Reggie
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Pickpick

I loved this. This was really a sad and whimsical children‘s book for adults about a big cat living in the Hollywood sign area who has many adventures and deep thoughts. Through the cat‘s eyes we‘re left to connect the easy dots of our inhumanity and our disconnectedness with each other. I‘m glad the cat got to go to Disneyland! Lol. Pick!

batsy "Big cat having adventures and deep thoughts"—that's an irresistible premise. 6mo
AllDebooks "I have so much language in my brain and nowhere to put it". Oh, I need this! ? 6mo
squirrelbrain Lol, that‘s when it got a bit *too* weird for me, when they went to Disneyland. 🤣 Still liked it though. 6mo
See All 12 Comments
Reggie @batsy @AllDebooks just a warning, it has a 65% here on Litsy. I thought it was great, though. Hope ya‘ll like it. 6mo
Reggie @squirrelbrain lol, the part where little slaughter brings him to the turnstile and the employee is like- excuse me is that a service animal. And she says-yes it‘s my support cat. Lolol I only laugh because as absurd as that is I can‘t tell you how many bring their poor animals to the casino, where I‘m sure they‘d want to be anywhere but. 6mo
AmyG Thank you so much, for the mail, my friend. And to you….incoming. Mail by me is awful so hopefully by Christmas! 😘🎄🎅🏻 6mo
vivastory I received your package today, Reggie (I don't check my mail often lol) Thanks! A more articulate response will be coming your way when my brain is not mush. Just wanted you to know that I received it & it is appreciated!
6mo
Reggie @AmyG yay I‘m glad you got it. The mail lady told me I had the wrong zip code but it‘s the same address I‘ve always used. No worries, happy holiday! 6mo
Bookzombie @Reggie I received your package a few days ago. Thank you so much. I‘m always slower than you so something will be headed your way soon. 🙃 6mo
Reggie @Bookzombie seriously, all I want is a Christmas card. I know it‘s an asshole move. “Don‘t send me books but I‘m still sending you stuff.” I am proud of myself, I‘ve almost been exclusively reading books from the library these past 2 months. I think you‘re awesome Margie,hope you enjoy the box, and Merry Christmas! 6mo
Bookzombie @Reggie It‘s not an asshole move! Spoiler: I‘m not sending you books. I‘m pleased that you are enjoying your library. 🤓 I will write more in the card, but, of course, I love what you sent. I also might have playfully said, “Damn it, Reggie!” when David handed me the box. Lol. I also think you are awesome! Merry Christmas, my friend! 💗 6mo
Centique @Bookzombie @Reggie oh this made me laugh because i too went “damn it Reggie” 😂😂 “i thought we were on a book break” 😂😂 5mo
50 likes3 stack adds12 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Pickpick

I loved the writing in this. Hoke has a lyrical way with words and I will be watching out for more of his work. The structure is sparse and the story propels you through the pages. It is a bit weird, and I don't normally go for animal toys stories (that one about the dolphins this year I couldn't get into at all!) But this was just right in the balance of whimsical but with something to say.

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Jas16
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Mehso-so

As someone who doesn‘t often like short stories it seems weird to say that I think I would have liked this more as a short story. I liked the beginning and what I thought the author was trying to with a gay mountain lion protagonist but as the admittedly short book progressed I became less and less enchanted. #tob24.

Megabooks Agree! 💯💯 6mo
51 likes1 comment
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Megabooks
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Panpan

How many times can a I roll my eyes when reading a book? Apparently a lot because I didn‘t like this at all. Maybe it‘s because of my line of work but I hope animals have a lot more fascinating thoughts than the cougar living in an LA park who narrates this book. I get that he was trying to make a larger point about homelessness and wildfires and vanity and wild places needing to be wild, but no. Just no. Glad I borrowed the audio from hoopla!

Ruthiella I‘ve a feeling this won‘t work for me either. Let‘s see if it makes the shortlist… 6mo
squirrelbrain I didn‘t mind this one, probably because I hated Pod so much and expected this to be similar, when actually it was quite witty in comparison. 6mo
BarbaraBB How I love your reviews! Let‘s hope it won‘t make the shortlist 6mo
See All 9 Comments
Reggie I have been so tickled by how split all of you are over this book. Makes me want to read it! 6mo
Megabooks @Ruthiella yeah, I was suspicious but a little hopeful after @squirrelbrain ‘s review, but it just didn‘t work for me. Like I really don‘t think they would admit a cougar to Disneyland. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 6mo
Megabooks @BarbaraBB I‘d be interested to read what you think if it does! 6mo
Megabooks @Reggie another person whose opinion I‘m curious about. 🤔🤔🤔 6mo
squirrelbrain That was one of the issues I had with the book Meg - the Disneyland bit! 6mo
Megabooks @squirrelbrain such a weird, weird idea to put in a book. And in this case, I don‘t mean it as a compliment! 6mo
82 likes9 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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"if you feel alone in the world

find someone to worship you"

I love the use of language in the book.

BarbaraBB Beautiful 💕 6mo
21 likes1 comment
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Michael_Gee
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Panpan

I don‘t get the ecstatic hype? I listened to the audiobook because of a bookstore staff rec that called it a “haunting” story of “heartbreak” with the “best character I‘ve ever read.”

Darcie. 🤨

Nonhuman narration is an opportunity to really look at our world through new eyes. I don‘t know that I got that with this story of a lonely, quickly tamed wild animal. What we did get was an imagined trip to Disneyland.

BkClubCare Interesting. . . I am excited to be able to use this title for a category in a reading challenge. Hoping I can get to it this year yet. Thank you for sharing your take on it, I am all the more intrigued. 6mo
23 likes1 comment
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Chelsea.Poole
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Pickpick

Points for originality! It‘s not too often you read a book from the point of view of a queer mountain lion. Hanging around behind the Hollywood sign in LA, this creature has seen some things and makes observations about humans. Observations about hikers, dog owners, and unhoused people made me feel ashamed to call myself a human. Then there‘s a strange connection with a teen girl. Based on an actual animal who lived in an LA park. #tob24

ChaoticMissAdventures I just picked this up from the library and am flying through it! Love seeing all the great reviews about it. 6mo
Hooked_on_books I‘m really curious about this one. I‘ve read a little about the animal that inspired it. 6mo
Fr3NcHtOaSt I read this a few months back. I liked it. 6mo
89 likes1 stack add5 comments
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squirrelbrain
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Pickpick

I‘m often not keen on anthropomorphism so I was nervous, but the lion‘s narrative voice at the start was so witty that I fell in love with him.

In the second half there were some ‘out there‘ storylines that I felt spoilt it a bit. (I know; what isn‘t ‘weird‘ about a sentient lion living in the hills above ‘ell-ay‘ and being sarky about all of the hikers, but hey-ho!)

Still a (strongish) pick though, just for the social commentary alone.

BarbaraBB Great review, thanks for the tag Helen 6mo
Jas16 Just checked this one out from the library. I was feeling iffy about it but your review makes me less wary. 6mo
rockpools Ok, I‘m intrigued! Great review, Helen. 6mo
See All 12 Comments
Deblovestoread I was on the fence about this one but love your review. Thanks for the tag! 6mo
Larkken Interesting… I was torn about this one, seemed a bit precious almost. But you make it sound quick and painless 6mo
squirrelbrain @BarbaraBB @Jas16 @rockpools @Deblovestoread @Larkken - I‘d love to share my thoughts more if any of you do read it. Firstly I had an ‘actual‘ lion in my head to start with - mountain lions are much smaller I think. 🤦‍♀️ Then, I hated the tagged book SO much I was worried this would be the same and, for the most part, it wasn‘t, but I wondered if it veered into that territory towards the end. 6mo
batsy I'm intrigued! 6mo
Ruthiella I‘m also wary of books told from an animal‘s point of view. How could a human even come close? 6mo
Chelsea.Poole I just finished this as well and I agree with your review! 6mo
squirrelbrain @Chelsea.Poole - I‘ll tag my ‘queries‘ in a spoiler post below… 6mo
squirrelbrain Firstly, I thought when the lion was trying to put out the fire in tent city was a bit silly, although maybe the humans assumed he was attacking the man not trying to rescue him. Then the whole episode with the Slaughters…just didn‘t work. Would someone really be able to take a mountain lion to Disney?! 6mo
Chelsea.Poole I agree! I do think the humans thought it was an attack. Also, the Slaughter daughter…yeah, I think it could have been more impactful if the relationship between the two had more time to develop. But in such a short novel it had to be quick. Also, Disney: the mountain lion seemed to wonder as well until spotting all the other tall, fuzzy creatures there😆 6mo
73 likes1 stack add12 comments
blurb
squirrelbrain
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Today‘s ToB haul. White Cat, Black Dog is from the library - rather annoyingly I went along with a list of 4 books that were supposedly on their shelves, but could only find 1. (The others apparently had been returned to other libraries in the network but not shipped back to the main library 🙄)

The other 3 are purchases - the tagged will take all of 30 minutes to read; it‘s only 150 pages long and has lots of white space on the pages!

BkClubCare I had heard that Open Throat was a quick read, I might just read it at the library and return it immediately 🤣 6mo
BkClubCare Also… if you are anyone wants to share books, I am open to buy-read-ship as an exchange program. I have already got Blackouts going to a friend as soon as I read it. (edited) 6mo
BkClubCare PS I am digging the White 🐈 Black 🐕 stories! 6mo
See All 16 Comments
BkClubCare Sorry, I seem to have lots to say. Is Voyager in Spanish?! 6mo
squirrelbrain I have actually nearly finished Open Throat already @BkClubCare - you could definitely read it in the library. I couldn‘t get it from the library. 6mo
squirrelbrain I‘d love to share books @BkClubCare but I‘m in the UK, and most ToB Littens are in the US I think. Books are cheaper than cross-Atlantic postage right now! 🙄 (edited) 6mo
squirrelbrain I managed to get an English version @BkClubCare - found an audio on Scribd / Everand but that turned out to be Spanish and my Spanish isn‘t good enough, as it looks to be rather intense. 6mo
Megabooks I bailed on WCBD earlier this year. I‘ll go back if it makes the shortlist. I‘m glad you‘re making such great progress!!! 6mo
Megabooks Thank you for the email!! 💕💕 I‘ve been dealing with migraines and haven‘t been able to look at screens much this week. Being able to use a phone/computer is the first thing to go and last to come back when I have a week like this. I did get the video of stinky sloth earlier and loved it!!! I‘m glad Henry likes it! 💜💜 6mo
Hooked_on_books I‘m super curious about the tagged book. It sounds like an interesting premise. I just got my hold on the audio for the Link stories today. And I‘m glad you mentioned the Everand audio of the Fernandez is in Spanish! I hadn‘t realized! 6mo
squirrelbrain @Megabooks - ugh sorry to hear about your migraines. I look forward to hearing from you whenever you feel up to it. 😘 6mo
squirrelbrain I just finished Open Throat @Hooked_on_books - I need to collect my thoughts! 🤔 6mo
sarahbarnes I just checked out White Cat from my library as well. Sounds like a fun one! 6mo
BarbaraBB Intriguing choices! 6mo
squirrelbrain Many of the others I can get for free from libraries etc @BarbaraBB 6mo
Suet624 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 6mo
67 likes16 comments
review
DavidDiamond
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Pickpick

Really enjoyed this little novella narrated by a lovable yet hungry mountain lion who is forced out of his home in the hills of L.A....or as he calls it "ellay".
Funny and whimsical observations about the people he encounters that will make you smile and perhaps shed a tear or two.

28 likes1 stack add
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AbstractMonica
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Mehso-so

Interesting concept, but not what I was expecting.

blurb
AbstractMonica
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Starting this one. 20 pages in, and I‘ll probably finish it today since it‘s so short.

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vivastory
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Pickpick

*fire is the only future*
Narrated from the POV of a mountain lion residing beneath the Hollywood sign, Open Throat has one of the most original narrative voices in any work that I have read this yr. With an animal narrator this could have easily been saccharine, instead it tackles issues such as ecological disaster, homelessness, & identity through an aphoristic narrative. I loved this book & will def be revisiting. One of the surprises of the yr

dabbe Wow. What a cover, too! 🤩 11mo
vivastory @dabbe I was really annoyed by cover designs a couple of years ago but I feel like a lot of the recent designs have been fantastic 11mo
Cinfhen Sounds great - intense. And I agree @dabbe cover really grabbed my attention 😍 11mo
See All 8 Comments
batsy It sounds so different! I added it recently because I think I saw it recommended somewhere (my memory is great 😂) so I'm glad to see you liked it. 11mo
Pinta Loved this book 11mo
Addison_Reads Great review. I read this a couple months ago through #NetGalley and loved it. I agree with you about it being a surprise. It was unexpected and just an overall excellent read. 11mo
Aimeesue Great review! For me it is a terrible review because now I must stack this book and add to my towering TBR. I‘ve been very into eco- fic and eco dystopias lately. I‘m having such a niche summer. ⛈️ (edited) 11mo
Megabooks Stacked! 10mo
87 likes7 stack adds8 comments
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Pinta
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^^p31 “the hikers talk about their therapists” while P-22 tries not to eat them 😄

36 “my mother taught me to hunt but my father taught me to be hunted”

37 “I traded old fear for new fear”

51 “I want to devour their sound

I have so much language in my brain

and nowhere to put it”

115 “I feel more like a person than ever because I‘m starting to hate myself”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Anthropomorphism always make me nervous, but this first-person queer mountain lion living under the Hollywood sign voice completely won me over. Great perspective for defamiliarization, living in “ellay” with all the “loud metals that carry people to the park.” Constant hunger. Missing family. Urban / rural. Animals in crisis. Justice. Survival. Outsider, at the edges, watching. Tamping down the urge to eat a person. Trying to connect. 2023