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Red Dog. Louis de Bernires Paperback – December 1, 2006
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Red Dog is a book by a writer in love. While passing through a town in the Australian outback, novelist Louis de Bernières discovered a statue of a dog. Intrigued, he made inquiries, and was swamped by locals with tales of a wildly charismatic creature named Tally Ho. De Bernières, author of Corelli's Mandolin, has fashioned a charming picaresque of Tally's misdeeds and misadventures, not least of which involve the animal's enormous appetite (complemented by an equally enormous flatulence). "Tally," he writes, "was the most notorious canine dustbin in the whole neighbourhood. With apparent relish he ate paper bags, sticks, dead rats, butterflies, apple peel, eggshells, used tissues and socks." De Bernières' enchantment with this "dustbin" is a reflection of a larger rapture: here is a writer who has fallen for Australia itself. He wittily captures the country's cadences, its landscape, its weakness for the (literal) underdog. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The best stories about animals are really stories about the people who form bonds with them, and therein lies the central fault of this extremely slender effort from the celebrated author of Corelli's Mandolin. Apparently, de Bernires was so taken with a statue of a sheepdog he found in an unnamed town in Australia that he had to uncover the sources that fed the local legend. He transformed them into this picaresque narrative, a series of tall tales, written in a self-consciously folksy style about the animal known variously as Red Dog, Tally Ho and Bluey. Because de Bernires anthropomorphizes him, Red Dog comes across as all too human, while the people who know and love him are mere stick figures; the author acknowledges he "invented" them and it shows. While the dog does possess an uncanny ability to make his wants and needs known (more probably, it's the uncanny predilection for humans to interpret the dog's various "communications"), these tall tales simply aren't tall enough. To be effective, the anecdotes that make up the book should be surprising, amazing or at the very least delightful, but Red Dog's adventures are mundane. The dog is clearly meant to evoke the pioneering Australian's conception of himself: independent, resourceful, footloose and stubborn. Red Dog is also prone to aggressive flatulence, presumably not an element of the Australian character. No doubt there was an Australian sheepdog that was well-loved by a circle that transcended a single family or even a town, but it's a stretch to turn that idea into a book, even one as slight as this one. Dog lovers might bite, but other readers should beware. The book is charmingly illustrated by Alan Baker, and includes a useful glossary of "Australianisms."
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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As a story meant more for children I gather it would probably be unfair to compare it to de Bernieres' previous writing which was excellent and superbly researched and realised, as in Captain Corelli's Violin, Birds without Wings, or Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord.
This one is quite sweet and touching but the writing style is very elementary. de Bernieres manages to bring a tear to the eye nonetheless as he still gets to the heart of things and the sadness and tragedy of everyday life, but in this case in a realistic manner which will not cause any untoward psychological damage to any childlike readers but will still gently stir the emotions.
It's quite a short book, I think it literally took me just an evening to read (and I'm a slow reader!), but if you love the movie then I definitely recommend reading this book.
of this story. You could not make up a story that would better describe the learning ability
and loyalty of these dogs. This is by far the best dog story of all time.
Eat your heart out Lassie! :)
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