2007: 137.  The Dogs of Babel

“Here is what we know, those of us who can speak to tell a story: On the afternoon of October 24, my wife, Lexy Ransome, climbed to the top of the apple tree in our backyard and fell to her death.”

The Dogs of Babel, Caroline Parkhurst

This is an excellent example of a well written and interesting modern middlebrow novel.  That’s not meant to be a slam in any possible way - I aspire to write a middlebrow novel myself someday.  What I mean is, it tells an interesting story about regular people, without being all miserably over written and po-mo.*  It reminded me of some of the books I have recently really enjoyed - The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, and The Patron Saint of Liars, to name but two.  

It tells the story of Paul Iverson, whose wife dies falling from a tree in their backyard.  Only their dog, Lorelei witnessed the fall, and Paul (who is a linguist and college professor), shattered with grief, decides to try to teach his dog to talk to figure out what really happened.  Which is to stay, this is a story about a man shattered with grief.  And it is sad, oh so sad, and it is clever, how we slowly go from a shallow to a deeper understanding of Paul’s loss, and of who Lexy really was.  And it is satisfying without being stupid (which is a lot to ask of book with the phrase “talking dog” in its subject).  And I enjoyed it immensely.

Recommended for: People who like well written books about people and their feelings (i.e. non-cyborgs)

*Ahem, Fortress of Solitude.

Date/Place Completed: 8/27/07; Quito

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017