cover image Walking the Dog

Walking the Dog

Charles Davis, . . Permanent, $26 (164pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-167-4

Davis's strained second novel takes place on the fictional island of Santa Margarita y Los Monjes, a magical place where anything is possible. The narrative consists of loosely knit episodes detailing the adventures of some of the island's more colorful inhabitants. In one, a corpse becomes animated at an inopportune moment during the funeral service, and the sons of the deceased, known as the Boys, visit the cursed House of Low Women and subsequently lose their genitals. The Boys' cousin, a clerk and the book's narrator, becomes a dog walker in his spare time; he is nearly killed by security forces when his pack of dogs almost collides with the President-for-Life's motorcade. When asked to infiltrate the Happy Valley retirement complex by the suspicious President-for-Life, the narrator uncovers a death cult. In the final episode, the narrator becomes the campaign manager for the Boys, who, supported by foreign interests, are running against the President-for-Life. Despite the author's bountiful imagination, this short novel reads like a long in-joke that the reader isn't in on. (Aug.)