Jessica Anthony is the author of The Convalescent (McSweeney’s/
Photo: Matt Cosby.
Enter the Aardvark
It’s early one morning on a hot day in August, and congressman Alexander Paine Wilson (R-VA) is planning his first re-election campaign when he receives a FedEx delivery at his Washington townhouse. Wilson’s investigation into the contents of that delivery, a gigantic taxidermic aardvark, sets in motion a series of chaotic events, each escalating from the last, until Wilson finds himself at the mercy of America’s media machine, and in political ruin. Hurtling between present day Washington D.C. and late nineteenth century Victorian England—during which we follow Titus Downing, the taxidermist who built the aardvark, and his lover who hunted her—the aardvark becomes a totem of the power of empathy, and of a kind of love which can endure through time. Hijacking the maximalist spirit of William Gass and Thomas Pynchon, Enter the Aardvark is a ghost story, a love story, a political satire. It is an exploration of the contemporary consequence of repressed male love meeting oppressive male power, pressures the ignored role of women in men’s “reincarnation,” and is a speedy, blackly comic condemnation of our current American blindness.