This is a thoughtful, philosophical look -- in small, bite-size bits -- at the relationships between dogs and humans, and what humans have made of dogs in their writings. The "chapters" are more like Pascalian pensees: mostly two to three pages, but sometimes as short as a single paragraph. They discuss everything from dogs in dreams and famous literary non-appreciators of dogs, to ghastly historical incidents such as the rounding up and exile to an island of thousands of dogs so that they starved and ate one another, by the Turks in 1910. Grenier recalls many writers' real and fictional canine doings, but the accent is on French writers (the author has been an editor for the distinguished French press Gallimard), so unless the names Larbaud, Queneau, Mauriac, Valery, Chateaubriand, or Romain Gary mean a lot, you are apt to feel like a stranger at the cocktail party. It can come as a relief when Grenier returns to the concrete and relates incidents with his own dog, Ulysses. Elegant, erudite, but perhaps a little too heady for the American reader.
This report prepared by David Loftus