Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

Fifteen Dogs

The eighth book I read in 2017 is Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. I read it because it was on the Canada Reads 2017 long list. If it hadn't been on the list, I sincerely doubt it is a book I would have read. It's just not my kind of book. 

The first scene in the book had me wondering if I was even going to continue with it. It didn't get as weird as I feared it might, but it still was plenty weird, though I have to admit it was kind of funny, too, in parts.

The story begins with two gods - Apollo and Hermes - having a conversation. I did find this quote from their conversation amusing, because it is so true:

"Just listen to these people. You'd swear they understood each other, though not one of them has any idea what their words actually mean to another."

The gods decide to grant "human intelligence" to fifteen dogs, and the rest of the story is about how this affects the dogs.

The dogs define God as the master of masters; government as a group of masters deciding how a pack should act; and religion as a group of masters deciding how a pack should behave toward a master of masters. I thought that was kind of interesting.

It was interesting to see the dogs repeat much the same sentiment as the gods in this quote:

"Humans do not always mean what is meant by the sounds they make."

One of the dogs comes to this conclusion:

"...what humans called 'intelligence' (knowing the accepted names for things, performing feats that required a certain mental dexterity) was in every way inferior to the knowing he remembered from his previous life as a dog..."

I've seen the book classified as philosophical, and I guess it does have the potential to spark some philosophical discussions. Maybe if I read it with a group of people and had these discussions I would appreciate the book more, but as it stands on it's own, I'm not a huge fan of this book simply because it's just not my type of book.

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