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A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, by J. R. Archer – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer

A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, by J. R. Archer
Hove, England, White Crow Books, June 2017, trade paperback $14.99 (ix + 299 pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is an intriguing fantasy, but from an anthropomorphic point of view, it’s ultimately unsatisfying.

The locale is New York City. The chapters are short. In chapter one, Svetlana witnesses Robbie commit suicide, leaving Rosie, a small dog. In chapter two, rich, elderly Margaret Roper and her small dog Rags are introduced. In chapter three, young Black police officer Teddy Dwight investigates Robbie’s suicide and takes charge of Rosie. In chapter four, Margaret has a fatal heart attack. Her son Will, who has anger issues, is mostly resentful at the inconvenience her funeral will cause him. He breaks his promise to look out after Rags, who is sent to a dog shelter.

Most of the first nine chapters are entirely about the human cast. The dogs are little more than props. Other important characters are young Milo McGarry, the conscientious Black receptionist at the East 110th Street dog shelter (which is expected to go out of business soon), where Rosie and Rags are taken; two other dogs there: Lennon, a hulking but kindly Great Dane, and Darcy, a rescued Greyhound ex-racing dog; Sebastian, Svetlana’s pet Borzoi-German Shepherd mix; and Elton, Milo’s long-haired Chihuahua.

The dogs finally talk in chapter Ten. Chapters Thirteen, Fifteen, and some others are also devoted to the dogs, but for an anthropomorphic novel, it’s too little, too late.

The dogs don’t talk verbally but mind-to-mind.

“‘Allow me to introduce myself, Lennon, my name is Rags.’

The Great Dane sat up, looking surprised. ‘How’d ya know my name?’

‘It came to me as soon as we connected.’

‘Seriously? … I’ve never been able to do that. Have you just arrived, little fella?’

‘I got in early this morning.’

‘Rags, if you want a heads up, I’ve been here for a while now, and for me it’s home. I don’t know how long you’re gonna be here but, while you are, let’s be friends.’” (p. 47)

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Doglands, by Tim Willocks – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten

51YDnSOQT-L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_Doglands, by Tim Willocks
NYC, Random House, September 2011, hardcover $16.99 (308 [+1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

This has been published by Random House Children’s Books, but packaged to look like an adult title. Most reviews (non-furry) have compared it to London’s The Call of the Wild crossed with Adams’ Watership Down. The dogs in it talk to each other, which qualifies it for reviewing here.

“Once upon a time in the Doglands, a blue greyhound gave birth to four pups in a prison camp that the dogs called Dedbone’s Hole. The blue greyhound’s name was Keeva and she named her firstborn Furgul, which in dog tongue means ‘the brave.’ Keeva loved Furgul from the moment she saw him, but as she licked his newborn body clean and gave him her milk to drink, her heart was filled with fear. Furgul had been born with a terrible secret. And she knew that when the masters discovered his secret, they would take him away.” (p. 3)

Furgul is born into a puppy farm, specifically a greyhound breeding farm whose purpose is to produce as many greyhounds for dog racing as possible:

“When the pups no longer needed Keeva’s milk, they joined the other hounds in the exercise yard and Furgul got a better look at Dedbone’s Hole. A lot of greyhounds lived here, in a compound surrounded by a high wire fence. Outside the fence he saw a junkyard and some shacks. Inside the compound the greyhounds were locked in crates – one crate each, where each hound lived all alone – which were even smaller than the whelping cage that Furgul lived in. For just one hour a day the hounds were released from the crates to feed and exercise. The masters made sure there was never enough food for all the hounds, and so the hounds had to fight one another, snarling and biting at the filthy troughs of grub to get enough to eat. The older dogs said the masters starved the dogs on purpose to make them compete, so they could find out who was weak and who was strong and who might make a good racer. They did it to teach them that it was stupid to make friends. They did it because they were bullies who thought it was fun to feel so powerful.” (pgs. 4-5)

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Timbuktu: A Novel, by Paul Auster – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

TimbuktuNovelTimbuktu; A Novel, by Paul Auster.
NYC, Henry Holt and Co., May 1999, hardcover $22.00 (181 pages).

It can be argued that Timbuktu is the opposite of an anthropomorphic novella. It is about a dog, Mr. Bones, whose beloved human companion, the pseudonymous Willy B. Christmas, a homeless East Coast “street poet” is dying. Timbuktu does an excellent job of portraying the despairing thoughts of a mostly unanthropomorphized but exaggeratedly intelligent and loyal dog. He understands “Ingloosh” more than most dogs, but still from a canine viewpoint.

“Mr. Bones knew that Willy wasn’t long for this world. The cough had been inside him for over six months, and by now there wasn’t a chance in hell that he would ever get rid of it. Slowly and inexorably, without once taking a turn for the better, the thing had assumed a life of its own, advancing from a faint, phlegm-filled rattle in the lungs on February third to the wheezy sputum-jigs and gobby convulsions of high summer.” (p. 3)

“What was a poor dog to do? Mr. Bones had been with Willy since his earliest days as a pup, and by now it was next to impossible for him to imagine a world that did not have his master in it. Every thought, every memory, every particle of the earth and air was saturated with Willy’s presence. Habits die hard, and no doubt there’s some truth to the adage about old dogs and new tricks, but it was more than just love or devotion that caused Mr. Bones to dread what was coming. It was pure ontological terror. Subtract Willy from the world, and the odds were that the world itself would cease to exist.” (p. 4)

Willy is aware that he is dying. As he and Mr. Bones wander the streets of Baltimore, Willy tries to prepare the dog for life after him. He rambles to him about “how to avoid the dogcatchers and constables, the paddy wagons and unmarked cars, the hypocrites from the so-called humane societies. No matter how sweetly they talked to you, the word shelter meant trouble.”   Mr. Bones is a sweet but ugly, smelly, adult mongrel. “No one was going to want to rescue him. As the homeless bard was fond of putting it, the outcome was written in stone. Unless Mr. Bones found another master in one quick hurry, he was a pooch primed for oblivion.” (p. 5)

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La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, T. 3, by Pau – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51u-in0SJhL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, t.3, by Pau.
Roubaix, France, Ankama Éditions, November 2015, hardcover €12.90 (60 + [3] pages).

Once again, Lex Nakashima & I present our conspiracy to get you to read French animalière bandes dessinées that aren’t likely to be published in English.

Has it really been 2 ½ years since I reviewed tomes 1 & 2 for Flayrah? Well, Jean-Marc Pau has been busy. Not only has he written & drawn this volume, he has made a “movie” of the whole series. If you look closely, you can find a little animation in it. The 3:25-minute “movie” starts with images from the first two albums; tome 3 starts at 2:09 minutes.

I described La Saga d’Atlas & Axis as “Their world looks like a doggy version of Astérix & Obélix …” Cutely drawn but without the humor. The setting, allowing for the anthropomorphic animals, is around the 9th & 10 centuries when the Vikings were taking over Armorica so thoroughly that it’s been called Normandy ever since. This series also differs from Astérix & Obélix in being one continuous adventure rather than standalone albums.

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Morning, Noon & Night, by Michael H. Payne – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51gpoesj0zL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Cover by Marilyn Scott-Walters

Morning, Noon & Night, by Michael H. Payne. Illustrated by Roz Gibson.
Balboa, CA, “Hey, Your Nose is on Fire” Industries, September 2014, trade paperback $14.00 (325 pages), Kindle $3.00.

“‘You dare?’ Koyannaset, the Black Sphinx of Andeer, let herself burst upward, towering onto her hind paws, the now massive points of her crown smashing the marble of the throne room ceiling into boulder-sized chunks; plummeting, they shattered the tile floor, cracks spidering out from the craters to splinter the pastel mosaics covering the walls. ‘I am your Goddess Queen!’” (p. 7)

This is one book where it pays to read the dedication:

For Lauren Faust, Rob Renzetti, and all the creative people behind My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic without whom this story would not have been possible

Morning, Noon & Night does not try to hide the fact that it is little more than MLP:FIM fan-fiction in a transparent disguise. The two equine goddesses of Equestria – Princess Celestia and Princess Luna – are the benevolent white griffin Princess Equinox and the murderously insane black sphinx Princess Koyannaset. The “Mane Six” ponies – Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and the rest – are the Champions of Andeer; two each of humans, hawks, and dogs, all adolescent females. Spike the dragon, Twilight Sparkle’s juvenile assistant, is Chert the (adult male) housecat, human Larissa Noon’s familiar but in love with the other human Champion, Violet – “even though every article Larissa had read on the subject said that interspecies romances never worked out!” (p. 16)

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