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In a Chilean village, a deformed Lithuanian woman runs an exotic dance hall with a mysterious ingénue whose bite turns men into ravenous dogs. With a deranged city inspector nipping at their heels, Isaac (misnamed for the son of Abraham and nicknamed Crabby for her hunched stature), the pale and beautiful Albina, and a diminutive hat maker named Amado follow the roots of a medicinal cactus into the desert, where love transforms them all. Alfred MacAdam’s translation of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s visceral prose flows with poetic tenderness scabbed over with bawdy humor and animalistic cries as the tormented shape shifters pursue Albina with dogged abandon, howling with desire.

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 “Every night, she bit at least seven—on the shoulder, at the base of the neck, or on the soft part of the arm.”

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A gag-inducing trail of sensory details, from the scraping of sharp fingernails to the stench of rotting fish, leads the pack on a hallucinatory journey of self-discovery in which ugly characters have beautiful revelations. Amado’s love helps Crabby cast off her outer shell but leaves him vulnerable to loss, while Albina’s awakened memory could be the antidote for her poisoned soul or the end of her childlike existence. Part gory fantasy, part vision quest, Albina and the Dog Men slavers with raw emotion—a love story with a bark as sublime as its bite.

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