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Lives of the Monster Dogs Paperback – 15 Jan 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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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 (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,589,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On November 7th 2008 a phone call is made to various journalists announcing that an ‘incredible monster’ would be arriving at the V.I.P. heliport in Manhattan the following day. On November 8th the helicopter lands and stepping from the helicopter dressed in a dark coloured uniform style jacket, wearing spectacles and holding a cane is a six foot tall Malamute dog standing on its hind legs. It’s reported that instead of front paws the dog has hands and that it talks. After this arrival 150 more ‘monster dogs’ appear in New York after having left a secret location in Canada some years earlier.
The novel moves between the Cleo Pira’s reminiscences of her time as the monster dog’s official biographer and the diary and papers of Ludwig von Sacher, the monster dog’s historian. It is through Ludwig that we learn the story of Augustus Rank, the man who created the monster dogs. As a child the brilliant Augustus Rank would surgically operate on small animals trying to create, ‘Frankenstein’ like, a hybrid of birds and mice; more specifically, attempting to transplant the wings of birds onto mice. At the age of thirteen he successfully removes the forelegs of a cow and reattachments them on opposite sides. This activity brings him to the attention of a Dr. Buxtorf a professor of surgery at the University of Basle. Sometime after that Rank, under the patronage of Wilhelm II, begins to work on creating an army of monster dogs.
Kirsten Bakis’s novel can be read as an allegory, a fable or a satire. And with all due credit to the author it works on all levels. The novel is a superb, strange, fascinating tale that can be amusing, heartbreaking and thought provoking.
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I have just finished reading this, and it was one of the strangest books I have ever read, but well written and thoroughly enjoyable if you can suspend your disbelief long enough.
Well worth reading.
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I'd read the customer reviews for this novel and, even though I thought the idea was an interesting one, I began to fear I would be disappointed by the read.
However, I found myself avidly reading this book from start to finish within the day. It helps that the style is fluent and easy to read, but I also wanted to discover how the fate of the monster dogs came to pass.
In many ways, we cannot like the dogs, and we most certainly cannot like their creator at all, but we are still interested in them.
Worth a read, if you can get over the fact that it will never happen in reality.
In my opinion, surely this aspect is forgivable in a work of fiction?
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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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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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