The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage audiobook review – quietly subversive

Sparks fly between rancher brothers in this audiobook version of the 1967 novel, read by Chad Michael Collins

A powerful and quietly subversive study of masculinity set in rural Montana, Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel is enjoying a moment in the spotlight thanks to Jane Campion’s film adaptation, which has been nominated for 12 Oscars. The book opens with a vivid description of a rancher castrating a young bull and tossing its testicles on the fire next to the branding irons, the symbolism of which is hard to miss.

Actor Chad Michael Collins is the narrator, giving distinctive voice to the sibling protagonists: the domineering and loudly homophobic Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch in the film) and his quieter, meeker brother, George. The pair, who are “more than partners, more than brothers”, oversee the running of a vast cattle farm inherited from their retired parents, and still sleep in the bedroom they shared as children.

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