Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Book Club Book Review: Mammoth by Chris Flynn

Chris Flynn

Publication date: 28th April 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 265
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty and Lace bookclub

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan.

Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, including detours to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Mammoth illuminates a period of history when ideas about science and religion underwent significant change. By tracing how and when the fossils were unearthed, Mammoth traverses time and place to reveal humanity's role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.

Told through the eyes of a mammoth’s fossilised remains Chris Flynn has delivered a hilarious and thought-provoking tale of life, extinction and rebirth. A tale that spans continents and centuries!

As mammoth is exhumed from the earth his bones absorb information from the conversations around him. Now waiting to be auctioned in a New York City warehouse mammoth tells his story, by mental telepathy, to a tyrannosaurus-bataar skull, a prehistoric penguin and an Egyptian mummy hand. A story that spans oceans and centuries.

Chris Flynn has extensively researched his subject matter and many historical events are included in a narrative where fact and fiction combine.

With Mammut’s formal speech and dry sarcasm, T-Bataar’s witty humour and penguin’s snarky comments Mammoth had me laughing and totally invested in their stories. By the end of the story these ancient fossilised bones felt like old friends.

Can I jump in? Bro. Take a breather. I knew this was going to be a big story. I didn’t realise it would be so boring.

I’m sorry you feel that way, T-bataar.

I don’t mean to be rude, but a couple more jokes wouldn’t go amiss.

I want to hear about your adventures, Mammut.

Not all this stale historical jibber jabber.”

This quote made me laugh because the story was anything but boring.

Funny, thought-provoking and unique, Mammoth is a must read.

Chris Flynn is the author of The Glass Kingdom and A Tiger in Eden, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Age, The Australian, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, The Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, The Big Issue, Monster Children, McSweeney’s and many other publications. He has conducted interviews for The Paris Review and is a regular presenter at literary festivals across Australia. Chris lives on Phillip Island, next to a penguin sanctuary.


  1. This one was hilarious! And so well done! It's such a bizarre premise, but Flynn totally pulled it off :) Glad to see you enjoyed it too!

    1. I did have my doubts about this but I loved it. So well written.

  2. This sounds unique! Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Definitely unique. The only book I've read narrated by an extinct mammoth. :)