Fifteen Dogs is a hard book to sell. In words, its premise sounds silly: a bunch of dogs are given human intelligence via a wager between two Greek Gods. The wager? If dogs have the same intellect as humans, would they live happier lives? Typically “what if dogs were as smart as humans” is a hypothetical scenario more fit for Disney than literary adult fiction. But Canadian author André Alexis takes a more philosophical approach, exploring morality, depression, and our perceived “places” in society. Oh yeah, and there’s lots of doggy deaths, too.
Although there are fifteen dogs in the book, the novel focuses on just a core handful: Prince, the poet; Majnoun, the fair leader; Atticus, the religious enemy; and Benji, the conniving Beagle. The fifteen initially start off as a pack, even inventing their own language that only they can understand. But when a rift splits the pack in two sides, the dogs quickly realize that this new consciousness might be more a curse than a blessing.
For dogs lovers expecting some kind of fictional look at behavioral theory, this book is not for you. However, for those who like experimental fiction, particularly ones that gut punch you in your dog-loving heartstrings, Fifteen Dogs is a novel quite unlike any other.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Wednesday, July 27th, 2016||No Comments »|
By the end of Roadside Picnic “the Zone” is no clearer than it was from the beginning. Despite having gone through it various times, its expanse escapes complete definition, though some, like the gritty red-haired anti-hero Redrick “Red” Schuart, excel more than others at navigating into its unknowns. It is perhaps somewhere between an industrial wasteland and an alien planet, a fitting landscape considering it’s one of several areas “The Visitors” decide to land and pack up and go without even the slightest communication.
Roadside Picnic is the tale of an alien visit without the aliens. A genre novel that is an entirely different kind of science fiction, one that focuses on the crude, raw reality of society, one with its fantastic elements numbed, wiped by the tangible corporeal ground the novel writes from. There is less here to take one away than there is to bring one crashing face to face with humanity’s perversions, its ego, and its failings.
|Recommended by Rhys Dipshan||Wednesday, December 30th, 2015||No Comments »|
When one thinks of an author’s magnum opus they usually picture a novel that runs the length of an epic, a novel in volumes, a novel with more characters and experiences than there are in actual towns across the world. But then there is Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo — short, by all means a novella, but a story of dizzying density and scope with such a reverberating influence on Latin American literature that Gabriel Garcia Marquez claimed to have memorized its entirely by heart.
An eerie story of a son venturing to find his father in the simultaneously populated and deserted town of Comala, Pedro Paramo represented a break from the Latin American literary realist movement of the early 20th century, and to many, sowed the first seeds of magic realism, a literary genre now all too common among native authors.
|Recommended by Rhys Dipshan||Thursday, November 19th, 2015||No Comments »|
To put forth an idea of a utopia is one thing — to dissect the idea and watch as its parts intermingle and clash in a blinding haze is an entirely different endeavor. It’s one of the reasons why Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed won two of the most coveted sci-fi fiction awards.
The novel is essentially the tale of two worlds: Urras and the colonized nearby moon, Annares, the latter of which was a gift to its once native revolutionaries to tame a threat of rebellion. The nations and societies of Urras are not unlike our own: the excess materialism, the belief in competition, the rabid hunger for wealth and resources, the rigidly structured societies under all powerful autocrats, oligarchs. Anarres in comparison is a austere tabula rasa, an unforgiving world that tests survival, and where ownership and property is as alien as its former motherland on its horizon.
Few transverse the worlds, but readers intimately get to know one who does, the Annares-born Shevet, an ardent revolutionary at heart but a inquisitive and practical physicist with a penchant for what his race demeaningly refers to as “egoism.”
|Recommended by Rhys Dipshan||Tuesday, October 20th, 2015||No Comments »|