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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars our four-legged friends, 5 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Dog Stories (Everyman's Library POCKET CLASSICS) (Hardcover)
"Dog Stories" - anthology of short stories in the Everyman Pocket Classics series. Attractive pocket size hardcover. Arty doggy dustcover and a ribbon bookmark. A delight for dog lovers! I'm not a dog lover by any means, one of my pet hates being canine souvenirs on city streets but - contrary to my expectations when I picked up this hardcover - I liked most of the stories selected, some of which have a twist in the 'tail'. The editor's selections represent great writers old and new, the stories drawn from both the contemporary period and the past. Overall, a good selection of short stories though you may feel that a few of the stories struggle somewhat to sit comfortably in the 'Dog Stories' category. A dog's presence in a story doesn't necessarily make it a 'dog' story. Still, what the hell when the stories are as good as most of these are.

No messing around with introductory/ background material here - just straight to the stories. Of the twenty short stories included, among my favourites are Jonathan Lethem's "Ava's Apartment", a captivating contemporary story set in a wintry New York in which a three-leggged pit-bull gives a sense of purpose and direction to a drifting New Yorker's life and Lydia Millet's excellent "Sir Hilary", also set in present-day New York, in which a professional dog-walker finds himself in a quandary about what direction to take when confronted with a difficult moral choice .

From an earlier time, Mark Twain's "A Dog's Tale" illustratess dog loyalty to humans at its deepest and purest. A wonderful moving story that tugs at the reader's heartstrings for which the words of the song, "he'll never let you down, he's honest and faithfull right up to the end", could have been specially written. Canine fidelity is also the central theme of P.G.Wodehouse's entertaining story "The Mixer" in which an ugly watchdog gets caught up in a house burglary scheme. Also at the top of my doggy stories hit-parade is "Kashtanka" by Anton Chekhov in which a lost dog has to adapt to a new home and master and interact with the other inhabitants, a cat and, would you believe, a gander! Never for a moment did I think I would fritter away valuable reading time on this kind of story and with such main characters... but what do I know? Humour is the driving force behind "Kashtanka" which added to a strong storyline and a twist at the end makes it (IMO) one of the best in the anthology. And for some good fun and more good storytelling about leading a dog's life, you need look no further than "Memoirs of a Yellow Dog" by O'Henry, Brete Harte's scoundrel of a dog, in the colourful story "A Yellow Dog" and James Thurber's "Josephine Has Her Day", an amusing exploration of the theme of dog-owner loyalty to dogs.

The loyalty, affection and exploits of our canine companions and their special bond with humans are well-served by this compilation. Good editorial choices for the most part and writing of a high calibre ensure that this anthology of stories featuring our not-so-dumb friends will appeal not just to 'doggy' people with a passion for dogs but also introduce to a wider readership a range of authors perhaps not encountered previously.
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Michael Murphy
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Glasgow, Scotland.

Top Reviewer Ranking: 130,544