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Lives of the Monster Dogs Paperback – April 1, 1998

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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A postmodern Mary Shelley, taking the parable of Frankenstein's monster several giant steps farther, might have written this fable of a novel about a tragic race of monster dogs--in this case, genetically and biomechanically engineered dogs (of several major breeds). Created by a German mad scientist in the 19th century, the monster dogs possess human intelligence, speak human language, have prosthetic humanlike hands and walk upright on hind legs. The dogs' descendants arrive in New York City in the year 2008, still acting like Victorian-era aristocrats. Most important, the monster dogs suffer humanlike frailties and, ultimately, real suffering more serious and affecting than the subject matter might at first glance suggest. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Cosmopolitan Manhattan of 2008 embraces a new breed of immigrant in this weird, fanciful tale of surgically enhanced, talking, bionic canines out on the town as they search for their history and place in the world. Conceived by 19th-century Prussian mad scientist Augustus Rank as an army of superior, fiercely loyal dog soldiers, the monster Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans and other sturdy breeds became fully empowered only many years after his death. Rank's followers, secluded in a remote Canadian village, continued his work, ultimately developing a race of super-intelligent, longer-living dogs trained from birth to use surgically attached mechanical hands, speak fluent German via a mechanical voice box, walk erect and dress in the elegant human fashions of the 1880s. NYU student Cleo Pira develops friendships with a few of the dogs in New York and becomes their liaison to the human press, writing insider articles for Vanity Fair and other chic magazines. Cleo narrates the novel, incorporating excerpts from the papers of Ludwig Von Sacher, the dogs' historian. First-novelist Bakis holds the reader in thrall for much of her imaginative tale, but, disappointingly, the dogs never emerge as strong characters. Though the reader gains some understanding of Ludwig through his writing, Cleo's conversations with the dogs are uniformly abrupt and anti-climactic. Instead, Bakis offers more of a dream vision that, ultimately, might be all in Cleo's head. Fortunately, that vision is engaging in its own right and, through Bakis's storytelling skill, makes for an audacious, intriguing and ultimately haunting debut.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Warner Books ed edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446674168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446674164
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel P. Smith on October 16, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The thing I love about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that he convinces me that he is not being whimsical, and that he is not making it up as he goes along. For me, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" has the same quality.
I found it convincing. The city of Rankstadt, the dogs' opera, the genuinely horrifying depiction of the young Augustus Rank--I think these will stick in my mind forever.
It does not surprise me at all that the book does not work for everybody. And, yes, I thought the ending was weak.
Still, I wish Cleo and Lydia the best. I hope that Ludwig will meet "I, Claudius" in some literary Valhalla; I believe they would like each other. And I will certainly look for the ruins of Neuhundstein the next time I find myself in New York City after 2011.
Is it just my imagination, or does something about the expression and bearing of the author, as shown on the back flap of the cover, resemble that of the monster dog on the front cover?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
On November 8, 2008, Cleo Pira, the principal narrator of Lives of the Monster Dogs, aimlessly wanders the streets of New York City. Depressed due to a breakup with her boyfriend, she barely notices the hubbub surrounding the arrival of a helicopter bearing Klaue Lutz, an ambassador for what amounts to a new species--150 genetically and surgically altered English-speaking canines who walk upright, a group subsequently labeled "the Monster Dogs" by the press.

The Monster Dogs are the brainchild of Augustus Rank, a Prussian scientist born in 1864. From an early age, Rank was fascinated by anatomy, performing surgery on a succession of increasingly larger animals. After a particularly heinous experiment on a cow at age 13, Rank, rather than being thrown in jail or an insane asylum, instead becomes the protégé of Dr. Buxtorf, a professor of surgery at the University of Basel. Rank flourishes in this academic atmosphere, eventually drawing the attention of the future Kaiser Wilhelm II, who enlists him in an effort to create an army of fierce, aggressive and loyal super soldiers.

Rank hits on the idea of creating canine commandos, and toils for the next fifteen years on the project without success. After a disagreement with Wilhelm, Rank flees to Canada. There, he founds Rankstadt, where, over the next seventy years, his followers strive to achieve his dream, finally succeeding in 1969. The villagers are proud of their achievement, little realizing they have created the means of their own destruction. Sick of their life of servitude, the Dogs rebel, slaying their human masters.

The Dogs travel to New York City, which in their minds has come to have an almost mystical significance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Tierney on June 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a sci-fi/fantasy reaser, normally. I went into this book with an open mind, and enjoyed the idea quite a bit. All along, even after the first chatper or two, I thought that having the idea is nice, but what will she do to gel the idea into a full story? A complete idea? To fully marry the plot, characters, and action into something coherent and real, insomuch as this type of book can be? Well, she fell a little short, but did had some success.
The shortfall was the point of the story. Oh, I could see the overall point by reading the book jacket, but that isn't enough. Where is the meat to the book? The depth? There are simply too many holes in the story, which I won't delve into since others already have, for the story to be fully realized. Despite the years that she spent writing this, it needs more work, and is typical of the great-idea, average-execution that one often sees in writing, film, and the other arts. But, Bakis' creativity is a huge strength. I came close to giving up until I got to the opera. How beautiful! I know it was funny -- the mere idea of the Monster Dog Opera is. But, the opera also did more to advance the story of the dog's background, the point of their suffering, the acuteness of their moral dilemnas, the contradictions of their history, and in highlighting the difficulties that the dogs would ever have in fully becoming a part of human society, than did any of the fairly dull conversations, and attempted conversations, between Cleo and Ludwig. That section alone made the book worthwhile for me. As to whether or not the reader of this review will like it -- who knows? But, I will at least read the jacket of her next book, and come back to this forum for recommendations. Not great, but promising.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Original and powerfully presented, Kirsten Bakis' "Lives of the Monster Dogs" is a compelling tale about 150 anthropomorphic canines -- aristocratic, charming, wealthy and plagued by their own madness and self-perceived hideousness -- descending upon the City of New York in the year 2008.

Written with agonizing attention to detail, the story transports you to the lavish flats of the Upper West Side and down to the stinking slums of Alphabet City. The exquisite 19th Century Prussian dress of the monster dogs can almost be seen on the Bull Terriers, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds and other canines of Bakis' tale. The characters themselves are well rounded, with complex personalities which, though only outlined to the reader in some places, are given enough idiosyncrasies as are necessary to be understood and captured.

The format of the story takes the reader through several centuries, giving them a feel for times past and present, laying the foundation for not only the character's lives, but their backgrounds as well. All of these elements lead to exotic, otherwise unbelievable, "monsters" whose lives, spirits, minds and emotions thrive in a reader's imagination, keeping them turning the pages.

Those, such as myself, whose emotions are moved by the lives, and deaths, of the heroes and heroines of this book will find a wide range of hopes, and sadness, from chapter to chapter. Though not uplifting, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" is still intriguing and gives one food for thought as the dogs explore their reason for being and their conditional acceptance based on wealth.

Driven forward by a doomsday plot, the quirky, mad conclusion made this story a 9 instead of a 10.
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