Wolf at the Door
by Travis Jeppesen
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, June 13th, 2007
This is not a book for people with MySpace pages with lots of photos of him or herself dancing at parties, having fun at family reunions, dozens of pictures of their babies, and even themselves smiling. Wolf at the Door is not suitable at this time for the masses. It would be cool if it sold as many as Harry Potter. But that might cause riots and some leakage of humanity and truth into the world and that would only lead to the public execution of Travis Jeppesen.
There are two plots in the book. One plot is a nameless man who has left the city to live in a cottage because of an unknown disease that is killing him. We can assume the disease that is killing him is alienation. The nameless man is so alienated that he constantly complains of modern devices and also of old devices. The man is alienated from the past and the future. He has no home. He is mentally homeless. That is why he has chosen to never leave his small cottage. The nameless dying man says, “I’m always looking for something new to complain about.” The book is mostly complaining. Which is our lives now, we complain about war and global warming, our pay, our hours, our tuition fees, school loans our credit card payments, we are a generation of complainers.
Jeppesen wrote, “I’m lonely, and I don’t care.” That line is so true. Everybody living these sad little lonely nothing lives going nuts with alienation, but they keep it to themselves, wandering like zombies or robots in our modern wasteland of boredom, filling it with vices like drugs, gambling, and cable news. Pretending the whole time they are happy and successful and life is awesome when in truth they are festering inside.
The nameless dying man has only one friend, Vojtech. Vojtech is a deaf-mute with a giant eel penis. He comes in for comic relief and symbolizes the nameless dying man’s inability to communicate with the outside world. To the nameless dying man everyone seems like a deaf-mute, no one is hearing his cry of alienation and sadness. No one listens to him, no one cares about him, and he also never had the ability to care about anybody else.
The second plot involves a murderer who was a gay child porn star; there are graphic descriptions of having sex with a ten-year-old in it. It borders on pornography, but in a cool way.
Wolf at the Door is very original. It is somewhat experimental, but not to the point of being unreadable. It doesn’t use clichés or scenes that would make one think Elijah Wood or Tom Hanks would be great in a movie version. The book is mostly written in large paragraphs. But they really aren’t paragraphs. More like a section of space where sentences are gathered. Jeppesen laughs at what teachers tell us, “A paragraph concerns one idea, then you indent to start a new idea.” No Jeppesen doesn’t do that: he wants a random collection of sentences flooded into your brain; they don’t need to make sense together, that isn’t the point; he wants a flood of images and ideas to shoot into your mind to create an overall effect and emotion. It is like a collage of sentences grouped together. This has been done before but most times it was unreadable and sluggish but Jeppesen did in such a way that it flows and is readable.
One short paragraph of his writing, the bulk of the paragraphs contained in Wolf at the Door are much longer: “Moving back and forth, one room to the next, thinking farting the long while, all the way time immovable. Thoughts of the remaining pills tend to occupy me for at least part of the time, till I’m tempted to wash two or three down with the cold burning substance in the bottle — my pure endsphere. I don’t know why, I will go lie down now.”
Wolf at the Door represents two distinct features of the modern human: the nameless dying man living alone in his cottage withering away symbolizes what we feel like inside. How we all feel like we are trapped far away, alone, desperate for communication, but all we can find is a world deaf to our needs, and a world that refuses to answer our questions on even why or how.
The man in the city who was in child porn symbolizes how we live in the world, that we kind of feel like murdering people every once in a while. How we commit totally immoral acts on a daily basis like driving a car that causes that world to get hotter or driving a car (to strip away the pretenses) that is run on Arab blood. But while doing these completely immoral acts we live peacefully without self-loathing, for if we let the self-loathing overtake us we will have to run to the cottage and wither away in our madness. The book isn’t satire or Magic Realism or Social Realism. Imagine if your ID and your Super Ego were left completely alone and wrote two separate plot lines, that would be Wolf at the Door.