cover image Teaching the Dog to Read

Teaching the Dog to Read

Jonathan Carroll. Subterranean (, $40 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59606-725-7

When dream worlds collide, real lives are shaken in this biting novella. Tony Areal gets the watch, the car, and finally the woman of his dreams—office prima donna Lena Schabort—but what he yearns for are the dreams themselves. He arranges a “job swap” with his nighttime self, a version of Tony who wins Lena’s affections for himself. But Lena has dreams of her own, and they don’t match up with what either Tony wants. Carroll (Bathing the Lion) expands the story from internal dreamscapes to the history and prehistory of his characters and their afterlives, layering cosmic significance over the seemingly random ways in which people’s lives intersect. But the emotional heart of the piece is rooted in the idea that whoever had the most recent dream is the one in control. An abrupt late twist may strike readers as unfair, and it introduces elements that crowd the story, but it does reflect Carroll’s dedication to the skewed logic of the dream world. Agent: Richard Parks Agency. (Aug.)