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Monday, December 6, 2010

A Book By a Dog

Well I just read The Art of Racing in the Rain. There are two things I would point to after reading this book with a dog narrator: one, there is value to the kindle, and two, always read the first few pages. Alright. The whole Kindle revolution brings up the same advantages of the IPOD. You don't have to buy the whole CD. Or you don't have plunk down eighteen dollars to read a book by a dog. It is not that The Art of Racing in the Rain was bad, it is just that by choosing to have the dog narrate we are limited to what he can interpret. He is a dog after all.

And saying that you have to wonder what the author was after. Well, why not have the dog narrate the book? It is new. It is different. And the dog was very Zen. He thought of the afterlife and then spoke to us from the afterlife and then he came back as a...well, I won't tell you. Needless to say the authors work was cut out for him when he made this decision. I will tell it form the perspective of a how can I get that dog into all the scenes?

Well  he doesn't. When I wrote Tobacco Sticks I used a thirteen year old I had to get in all the scenes. In courtroom scenes I became creative and used other people, newspaper articles, literally having my narrator peeking in keyholes. The problem with any first person narration is that you are stuck in the person (or the dog in this case) head and everything has to filter through the canine brain before it reaches ours. Now this dog got a lot of his information from the television, from his master, from hearing, from a Zen knowledge of the Universe and racing (auto racing).

There were a few scenes where the dog just claimed knowledge and we went with it. Fine. A literary first person can do this. Prior knowledge. Well, prior dog knowledge. Of course the rubber meets the road when the dog has to interpret sex scenes. Our dog did this by well, comparing human sex to dog sex with some knowledge of anatomy and then again, we just went with it. There were courtroom scenes as well our canine friend was able to give us the nuts and bolts declaring more than once humans just think dogs don't have a clue, but they do.

By the books end our dog narrator moved on to the great dog pound in the sky. I must admit after finishing the book I didn't look at my golden retriever the same. I stared into his brown eyes and said to him: do you really know what is going on? To which he stared back and essentially said: Woof! Now like the dog narrator he might be hiding knowledge from the oblivious human. I will say that I kicked him out of the bedroom.
Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove