Walking the Dog

Elizabeth Swados. Feminist, $17.95 trade paper (392 p) ISBN 978-1-55861-921-0
The fourth novel by playwright, musician, and director Swados (My Depression), who died in early 2016, tells the slightly surreal story of Manhattan art prodigy Ester Rosenthal, who goes to prison for 25 years after she and her boyfriend stage a prank robbery that kills two police officers. Told in short, punchy chapters, the novel alternates between 2008, when the newly released Ester—who changed her name to Carleen Kepper when she entered prison—earns a living by walking Manhattanites’ dogs, and scenes from her prison years. The 2008 scenes, with comically touching mini-portraits of the dogs and their owners, are vivid and sharply realized, and Carleen’s attempts to forge a bond with her unhappy 11-year-old daughter move at a believably halting pace. The prison sections are more problematic: those set at a Dickensian federal prison in Ohio, where Carleen is nearly beaten to death, are generic, and the ones at a more liberal prison in upstate New York, where she is supervised by a “tough-lady” nun, verge on fantasy. Though it’s not Swados’s best work, the novel’s wit and intelligence showcase her talent. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 392 pages - 978-1-55861-922-7
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