I started Hal Niedzviecki’s Lurvy: A Farmer’s Almanac (Coach House Books) while on the way to a rural retreat with a bunch of book publishers. Lurvy is a bizarre retelling of the children’s classic story Charlotte’s Web, this time told from the point of view of Lurvy, the farmhand. Like the characters in the novel, we publishers were gathered at a farm, complete with barn, animals and all the fresh meat we could stomach. I never read Charlotte’s Web but I still enjoyed Niedzviecki’s warped revision. Lurvy’s illustrations, by Hoge Day and Marc Ngui, add a haunting atmosphere to this pastiche of prose, poetry, screenplay-like segments and parody of primary school readers. At the farm I walked through the barn, looked at the pigs, sheep, chickens and cows, and remembered being five in Waterloo in April. Dad was barbecuing and I asked him what we were having for dinner. “The Easter bunny,” he said. Mom still shudders at the memory. At the publishers’ retreat dinner I made sure all the vegetarians were listening as I raised a chunk of pork to my mouth and mentioned I had seen Wilbur in the barn. Maybe it was self-indulgent, or maybe the wicked Lurvy had brought out the bad in me.