Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

The Dogs of Babel is about a man, Paul, who is so desperate to learn the truth of his wife's death that he attempts to teach his dog, Lorelai to speak. Lorelai was the only witness of the death and he believes that she just as desperately wants to tell him what happened.

The narration is incredibly engaging. Paul, begins by telling about his wife's death. He then goes back to the beginning of their relationship and takes you all the way up to the day before her death. As he talks about his wife, Lexy, you can see different aspects of her character developing throughout the book and she ends up not being at all like you expected her to be like in the beginning. And is seems she is not what Paul expected in the beginning as well.

In between stories about their relationship, he describes his efforts in trying to get Lorelei to talk. He's encouraged by stories of partial success others have had, including one very prominent case in which a dog testified in court against his abuser. His involvement with an underground group, whose members hold an almost cultish belief in their dog’s abilities to speak to them, leads to a heartbreaking discovery of their methods and trouble with the police. There is some interesting commentary here about people's ability to believe something they really want to be true.

It's really interesting that what could be such a funny subject, you end up taking so seriously and really hoping for his success. Of course, it’s not really about talking dogs, but about Paul slowing driving himself crazy trying to figure out if his wife committed suicide and if so, why and when she decided to do it.

There are a couple of funny parts, like when he ends up on the floor, drinking out of Lorelei's water dish, trying to encourage her to repeat a "wa" sound she made when she yawned. My favorite line in the book comes when Paul is dreaming that he is eating a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Lorelei comes to him and says "Give me a meatball, and I'll tell you everything you need to know."

This is a very captivating book and will have you just as eager to learn the truth about Paul’s wife.

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