cover image Dog Symphony

Dog Symphony

Sam Munson. New Directions, $13.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2768-1

A historian of prison architecture attends a conference in Buenos Aires and gets sucked into a surreal neighborhood patrolled by dogs in this clever novel from Munson (The November Criminals). Boris Leonidovich, a professor from an unnamed university in North America, has come to Argentina for a conference at the request of his colleague and sometimes lover, Dr. Ana Mariategui. But when he arrives, Ana is nowhere to be found. She is missing from his scheduled lecture on the Butyrka prison, as well as the opening reception for the conference. After misplacing his keys to the pension where he’s staying, Boris wanders Buenos Aires in search of Ana and ends up following a pack of stray dogs that begins to grow as the dogs meander through the night. Two flower vendors Boris befriends explain that the dogs come from a crack in the wall of a cemetery and only started appearing after a recent epidemic. All the citizens place two bowls for the dogs—one for water, one for meat—and everywhere Boris goes he hears the same song being whistled and playing from radios. “Dog Symphony,” a cab driver tells him. With subtle humor and hypnotic prose (“my visual field fishbowled as I dragged sandy detritus of another sleepless night from my eyes”), Munson’s strange, highly stylized story morphs into a wry critique of authoritarian nationalism in the vein of Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. (Aug.)