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)