Dog Stories

Diana Secker Tesdell, Author
Edited by Diana Secker Tesdell, Knopf/Everyman's Library, $15 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-59397-9
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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This motley, lovable collection is as varied as the dogs depicted within, from the savage hunters and woeful mutts of Doris Lessing and Anton Chekhov, to Lydia Millet's pampered poodle and Brad Watson's sage seeing eye dog. Tesdell's impressive choices range from traditional tales of loyal, devoted dogs by Kipling, Twain, and others, to Madison Smartt Bell's story of a man gradually becoming a canine. These entries wisely steer clear of sentimentality, nevertheless portraying their subjects with heroism and scrappiness. The ultimate opacity of a dog's mind provokes imaginative writers like Chekhov, Wodehouse, and O. Henry to project themselves into their pets. Most of these dog narrators manage prose that is beautiful, elegant, and painfully accurate about the failings of their human owners. Jonathan Lethem, James Thurber, Tobias Wolff, Penelope Lively, and many other literary luminaries make appearances here. As Ray Bradbury writes, and as this anthology wonderfully proves, dogs "collect and deliver the time and texture of worlds" in their fur. (Oct. 5)
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