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Lives of the Monster Dogs Paperback – 15 Jan 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (15 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340685972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340685976
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,143,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Kirsten Bakis was born in Switzerland to parents of Estonian origin and grew up outside New York where she now lives. After graduating from New York University, she attended the prestigious Iowa University Writer's Workshop where she was taught by, among others, Saul Bellow. She is 28 years old and works part time as a secretary in a small church in Manhattan.

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I remember the night the helicopter landed, because I was walking on the West Side, by the river, not far south of the heliport, and my heart was breaking. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
I came away from Lives of the Monster Dogs most wistful. Sometime in the near future, according to author Kristen Bakis, the great Monster Dogs would leave thier north Canada village, and bring thier Victorian elegance, thier Frankenstein bodies, thier doomed lives to Gotham*s refuge of New York City. The story line is alternated largely between the sad German Sheppard Ludwig, and a young (human) woman who becomes thier intermediary for most of the outside world. Much is made (too much?)of the life of thier mad creator and *father* August Rank, he learns, he experiments, he kills his half-brother. (Though it is never stated so in the book, I wonder if the young woman is descended from the brother*s posthumous child.) We are given the remote town Rank and his Dogs flee to, the opera written of its rebellion and destruction; in New York the Monster Dogs hold a parade in the snow, build a fairybook castle. And all the while the Dogs are slowly going mad and dying (with the odd exception of a female Samoyed). There exists no fully driving storyline, much of the book exists in retrospective, in describing its portrait of an ultimately doomed society; the beauty is that this techinique is so effective. Ludwig tries, in increasing desparation, to convey his loneliness, his fears to his human friend. I come away wishing the Monster Dogs were real, that such wonders could really invade our simian world. At best, there is only a dark, beautiful glimpse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lurgee on 25 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Lives Of The Monster Dogs came decked with words like "Dazzling", "Moving", "Brilliant" and so on on its cover. None of which really do justice to the sheer badness of the book within.

You would think that a book about genetically modified, bipedal dogs with the gift of speech arriving in New York could not fail, but it does, rather badly.

It is written in a very flat style and though Kirsten Bakis employs heaps of different narrators (A young New Yorker human, diaries written by the crazed creators of the dogs, letters and papers written by one of the dogs, even the libretto of an opera written by the dogs), none of them are terribly distinctive or interesting. The parts supposedly written by the dogs don't feel very doggy. The parts written by the human, Cleo, are bland. For some reason, we are told what Cleo is wearing every third page or so. WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT SHE IS WEARING, WE WANT THE DOGS! But when we get them, we find they are really just as banal as she is.

(ASIDE: Would the only journalist given privileged access to the secret dealings of the dogs, really have titled their first article, "Doggy Style"? Really?)

Even the denouemont is hopelessly fluffed. I won't say more, incase someone is foolhardy enough to try and read this book despite what I have written, but the grand finale did have potential. But not here. Once again, we get inane dialogue and unnecessary descriptioon of Cleo's clothing.

Look, I really wanted to like this, simply because it was such an unusual idea, but I really can't find it in me to give it two stars. Absurd + original + tragic would usually get two stars, but not in this case. Deep apologies to Ms Bakis, and well done on trying something, but please, reconsider the manifests of Cleo's wardrobe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Aug. 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book's premise drew me in. What a wonderful idea! I was expecting to learn about these creatures and what they thought and how they felt in their final hours. The relationships with humans also held promise. What was actually delivered was a watery stroy, false relationships and a lot of blathering on about the narrators hard life with no a/c. I give the author all due credit for coming up with an original idea and some interesting and engaging characters, such as Lydia, but I have to say that the story did not due the idea justice and in the end, I felt no closer to caring about the dogs or the peolple than I did in the first paragraph. Too many unanswered questions and assumptions into the relationships.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jun. 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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