A Man and His Dog – 3/5
I am not sure here what the actual story is. But it’s also like 70 pages, which seems pretty long for a novella, I am not sure what the actual story is, right? Specifically, we are dealing with a long description of a man getting a Pointer, which is vague, given that there are several varieties of pointers to choose from. We learn about the pointer from it’s breed specifications, from it’s character, it’s demeanor, and from the origin of it becoming a part of the family. We also learn about how this slowly falls out and they soon part.
Dogs are mirrors. Dogs are willing to take nothing but shit from you, so long as you offer the barest amount of attention. This is their curse, and its our burden. It’s shocking to me that for all the loyalty that dogs have shown to humans in the millennia of our cohabitation to them, it’s taken until the 21st century that it’s an actual cultural value, and a wavering one at that, for people to respect dogs in any kind of regular fashion. When you take dogs in literature, it’s about the same. While you can find plenty of examples of great dogs, you also find lots of examples of terrible humans, or humans who are willing to sacrifice their dogs for almost any amount of gain. My first interaction with a literary human who loved dogs unwaveringly is Jeff Bussey from Harold Keith’s children novel Rifles for Waite, in which the protagonist of the novel is deeply in love with his dog Ring (a name imprinted on me) and when he goes off to war, he’s deeply saddened more by giving up the dog than by leaving his family. At least his family could understand his motivations. It’s later when he meets a few different dogs, and especially a hound dog that pursues him that it emerges that his affection for dogs is universal.
Felix Krull – 4/5
This is a short story that would later be expanded into a novel by Thomas Mann. The short story focuses on Felix, whose name means lucky, who is the son of a wine merchant as he’s trying to reckon with his own predecessor and how that interacts with wine. I am interested in the story, but very little emerges here in this specific tale, and I am sure the wider novel explores the character and ideas more so. Or maybe not, as the novel is also unfinished!
Alas. It’s always dicey to read unfinished works as they, for obvious reasons, tend to be somewhat unsatisfying. You have to approach them as a scholar or be doomed to not enjoying them. Perhaps the Aeneid and The Canterbury Tales are the most successful versions of unfinished tales, and that’s only be chance with The Aeneid, as it ends somewhat satisfactorially with the heor killing his enemy, and with The Canterbury Tales because of the impossible ambition of the original task meant that whatever we did get would work, especially given the narrative structure of the book.