The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
This book is weird. I'm quite certain that I don't understand all the analogies/the allegory. I'm quite certain that Wangerin is likely more of a genius that I'm quite ready to deal with. He is certainly fascinating. I hesitate to say that this book is a "classic battle of good and evil" although it is that. But to say so makes it sound simple and it was a bit more complex than one sentence can give it credit for.
This book tells the story of Chauntecleer, a rooster, who is battling against Wyrm, an evil creature who is buried in the center of the earth. Wyrm desires to escape his confines and eradicate the "Keepers" of the earth. The "Keepers", I assume, are the animals under Chauntecleer's dominion. These Keepers have been placed upon the earth by a god who pretty much gave up on the planet and had half a hope that his Keepers would manage to protect the earth from Wyrm (since the god was too discouraged to do so).
In order to not spoil the ending, there is a Christ-figure in this book (who starts out as one of the most annoying characters in the entire book). Plenty of parallels and analogies can be found between these pages. I was curious about Wangerin and his religion/philosophy after having read this. Turns out, he is a Lutheran pastor and professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana. If you want to know more about him, (which I am going to assume you will), click here. You might be familiar with some of his other works. I'm not quite certain why the god in this book is mentioned as having left the earth pretty much alone. I'm using little "g" on purpose even though it's a big "G" in the book. I didn't agree with some of the attributes Wangerin seemed to want to give to the god.
This isn't as clear an allegory as, say, Narnia. I'm confused by the importance of particular aspects of the story. For example - exactly who/what does Pertelote represent? Is the a representative of the Holy Spirit? I'm not certain who Chauntecleer is supposed to be. At times I thought his role was that of Mundo Cani Dog. I'm very curious for everyone's thoughts on this book. It's very intriguing.
I started off hating this book. I found it crass at times and rude at others. I wasn't fond of Chauntecleer or anyone else for that matter. If I had a gun and opportunity, I would have taken Mundo Cani Dog out of the picture all together! However, by the end, when the story concluded to some degree, I found it mystifying and was ready to recommend this read to just about everyone I know if merely to help me better understand it. I found this book in the juvenile fiction section of our library and, quite frankly, I would not have put it there myself. I definitely think this lands in the 16 yrs. + pile. It can be a bit vulgar. However, if you pick up this book and read it to the end, I think you'll find reason enough to like it.