Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If dogs could talk

The Dogs of Babel
Carolyn Parkhurst

I have to say that I have an unhealthy love for my three dogs. (I also have a cat, but she’s a bitch so I don’t speak of her often. No, seriously, she is a ROYAL bitch. She actually had the balls to leave a turd on the floor because I didn’t say hello to her quickly enough. Asshole.)

But my dogs are like my children, and don’t you dare tell me that they are just dumb animals and that I anthropomorphize them into having human qualities. They are human, dammit. Humans with fur and an extra set of legs.

But I don’t kid myself: if I die alone and no one finds me for days, these bastards will totally eat my ass. I just know it. I just better be truly dead or someone’s getting a beating.

aw HELL no

That’s not quite what happens in Carolyn Parkhurst’s Dogs of Babel. When Lexi suddenly dies, her dog, Lorelei, doesn’t eat her; instead, Lorelei barks for attention until help arrives. Lexi’s death is an odd one, and it sends her husband, Paul, into a tailspin. Lexi, not known for being adventurous, has fallen from a tree in their backyard. Paul cannot help but wonder: did Lexi fall accidentally...or on purpose?

Plagued by the uncertainty surrounding his wife’s death, Paul does the only logical thing a man in his circumstances can do: he decides to teach his dog to speak. His rationale goes something like this: Lorelei is the sole witness to Lexi’s death; ergo, she must know what happened. One only needs to figure out how to get Lorelei to spill the beans.

The Dogs of Babel follows Paul’s quest to know what Lorelei saw on the day of his wife’s death. Parkhurst’s exploration of grief is mostly sound, although a few scenes, especially those in which Paul meets with people who perform experiments on dogs in an effort to get them to speak, were a bit silly and unnecessary.

Overall, I found The Dogs of Babel to be intriguing despite its flaws. True, many elements were very convenient and highly improbable, but it did make me wonder what, if anything, my own dogs would tell me if they could. It would probably be something along the lines of, "Put the book down and pet me."

In a nutshell: A quick read that often doesn’t make a whole lotta sense...but it kept me interested while I was reading. Ultimately, it doesn’t say anything new and is quickly forgotten.

Bibliolatry Scale: 3 out of 6 stars


JRH456 said...

Both my cats are bitches... but u love them anyway!

And I am worried about what my cats would say if they could talk

Sam Houston said...

Looks like we were reading this one at the same time...I just posted some comments on it yesterday, in fact, rating it a 3 on a scale of 5. I think Parkhurst lost her way in the middle of the book and that's a shame because it should have been so much better.