In The Atavast Magazine, Jon Mooallem wrote an unbelievable, but true, story. This is the gist of it: In 1910 there was a meat shortage. The American frontier was all discovered and cattle ranching land was already being ranched. So a Louisiana Congressman named Robert Broussard came up with an idea to make swamps and bayous usable for raising meat animals, specifically hippos. That’s right, Hippos. Remember, this is a true story. The American Hippo Bill failed to pass by a single vote.
But what if it had passed?
In Sarah Gailey’s debut book River of Teeth, she tries to answer that question. In her alternate history, hippos are here. They’re being raised for meat and ridden around like oversized, amphibious, land/sea horses. Some of them have escaped. Winslow Remington Houndstooth, former hippo rancher, current scoundrel, has been hired by the U.S. government to clear a section of the Mississippi River of trouble-making, feral hippos. Like many traditional western heroes, Houndstooth needs a posse. So he rounds up a team of hippo wranglers, each with a unique skill, (from demolition to con artist, to poisoner) to help him pull off his caper and get a little revenge along the way.
River of Teeth has a lot going on for such a slim book. In it’s 121 pages you find a western, a heist story, a revenge story, a men on a mission story, a couple of love stories, a message about gender norms, and, of course, an albino hippo named Rosa.
Luckily, for those who want even more wild-west-on-a-hippo insanity, River of Teeth was quickly followed by a sequel called Taste of Marrow.