fifteen dogs-andre alexis

“If he stayed, he would have to teach Nira to respect him. New to the ways of argument, he did not know how to do this without violence. But he would have died a thousand times other than hurt Nira. And so, seeing no other way, Majnoun chose exile. He left the house without letting her know that he was gone for good.” (122)

“If it is possible to grow feral through an excess of civilization, then Benjy grew feral.” (112)

another toronto book award nominee came in to the store the morning after the ceremony and made a power-full argument as to why this book should’ve won. that may have been the case, but fast forward a few weeks later, and look who won the giller. i admit this is the first time i’ve been moved by a winner of that award, and i couldn’t be happier for mister alexis.

i of course, also love dogs and appreciate this attempt to tell a story from their perspective, and the premise of what gods would bet on at a bar. it was a bit like when homer decided to jam the crayon back up his nose, even after he took it out and became so much closer to lisa-it’s completely plausible that the dogs would be absolutely miserable if they were ascribed human characteristics. i suppose ignorance truly is bliss. but i don’t now, because i’ve never really been stupid like that. but i have made stupid fear-based, anger-based decisions, and so do these dogs.

“He might have tried to communicate with any species. From that moment on, however, he resolved to hid his knowledge of human language from humans themselves. It was evident that, for whatever reason, humans could not stand to be spoken to by dogs.” (46)

“For one thing, every dog dominated was one fewer to whom he could speak or teach his language. On occasion, he allowed himself to be bitten, but this was no better. Dogs who assumed they could dominate you made the poorest listeners. Then again, as he got older, it was more difficult to deal with those who were aggressive. So, odd though the thought was to him, Prince was grateful for leashes.” (156)

“Benjy and Dougie were performing ‘as dogs’. This made everything stranger still. Benjy and Dougie were dogs forced to perform a version of dogness convincing enough to please other dogs who had, to an extent, forgotten what dogness was. Were any of them actually barking or growing in the old way? Neither Benjy nor Dougie ever knew. Nor, of course, could they ask. They would have been bitten-or worse-if they had. Far from becoming more doglike, Benjy could feel himself becoming less so: more self-conscious, more thoughtful, more dependent on a language that he kept to himself. The safest thing was to imitate Atticus as best as one could.” (63)

and indeed it’s the inter-dog relationships that carry the novel, though the human and god meddlings in the wings makes for some serious colour commentary.

dog save the queen.


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