Cameron Barnes, formerly of New York City, lives in a small town in upstate New York. After having nearly succumbed to AIDS, he's recently regained a measure of his health but his long-term lover has moved away and faces the daunting prospect of learning how to live with the idea of a future in mind again. As a tentative step, he hires two local young men, brothers Jesse and Kyle Vanderhof, to do some renovation work on his property.
With the depressed economy of the area, the changing population of the town in which they live and the recent death of their family, the Vanderhofs are facing hard times and tough decisions. The older of the brothers, Kyle, sees an opportunity in Cameron, pushing Jesse to befriend Cameron and take advantage of his boredom and directionlessness. Caught between the opposing worlds embodied by Cameron and Kyle, Jesse is torn by the demands of his brother, the expectations of his community and family, and his own mix of volatile, contradictory emotions towards Kyle, Cameron, and himself. Mirroring the community's own increasingly tense split between long-term residents and new arrivals, this trio moves inexorably towards crisis and potential tragedy that will transform each of their lives.
Widely praised for his deft prose and brilliant characterizations, over the past decade Paul Russell has become increasingly regarded as one of the finest contemporary American novelists. Now, with War Against the Animals, he returns with his richest, most accomplished, and most compelling novel yet.