The Way of the Dog

Sam Savage, Author
Sam Savage. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-56689-312-1
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Ebook - 152 pages - 978-1-56689-318-3
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This compact, ruminative novel-of-the-artist by Savage (Firmin) concerns a broken-down American elderly “minor” painter, frustrated author of two pamphlets, and frivolous art patron and collector. The gimp with a cane, Harold Nivenson, owns a three-story “historic” mansion in a “quiet neighborhood” that he purchased with his inheritance. He mourns the loss of his small dog, Roy, and now sleeps much of the day. From his front window vantage point, he laments the gentrification he observes and often contemplates suicide, meditating on the ends of notable, self-destructive artists. While an art patron 25 years ago, Harold befriended and supported Peter Meininger, a German ex-pat painter who abandoned his family. The two were competitive before Peter moved to Los Angeles—with Harold’s wife—where he thrived as a commercial artist. Harold was left with Peter’s enormous painting of a female nude which, though valuable, Harold hated. Harold’s caretakers—his “obese” live-in housekeeper, Moll, and his tax attorney son Alfie—urge him to sell his art collection, appraised at an “astronomical sum.” Given the burden of his busted dreams, physical ailments, and bitter disillusionment, Harold has to decide whether his life is worth continuing to endure in Savage’s elegiac, articulate tale. (Feb.)
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