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-   -   Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog (http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=3647)

paddyjoe 23rd Jun 2008 23:22

Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
The Lost Dog – Michelle de Kretser

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/...500_AA240_.jpg

Tom Loxley, an Anglo-Indian intellectual is holed up in a cabin in the Australian bush, writing a book on Henry James’s ghost stories. Tom’s dog (who must have a name, but we never get to hear it) catches sight of a wallaby and goes bounding off into the bush, trailing a few metres of his rope lead. The story then follows Tom’s attempts to find his lost dog over the course of ten days.

Alongside the straightforward narrative of the hunt for the dog we get the back story of Tom’s mother Iris, once a fair skinned Indian girl married to an English man, but now, at 82 and a bit decrepit, living in Australia with her sister-in-law, Audrey. Tom and Iris have to come to terms with his mother’s physical failings. We also get the story of the Chinese-Australian artist, Nelly Zhang who Tom has a bit of a crush on and who owns the cabin that Tom has been using while finishing writing his book.

Great start to the book where the dog bounds off and leaves an increasingly worried Tom, while the sections on Iris as a girl in India, and Tom’s childhood in India were so much more interesting than some of the modern day story. Tom is brought up Catholic and is fascinated by the local Hindu temple.

Quote:

If Tom happened to pass the temple in the company of his grandfather, the old man would speak of primitivism and barbaric rites. Sebastian de Souza pointed out men with iron hooks in their flesh; described a reeking stone block where goats were sacrificed. If he caught his grandson looking towards the temple, he would slap him.
The young Tom has a feel for proselytizing and takes the neighbour down to the local church. He reckons that she only needs to see the wonder of the imagery in the church she could not fail to become a convert.

Quote:

The boy took her by the wrist and led her intuitively towards light; to the great window glowing at the eastern end of the transept. Madhu looked where he pointed and saw a sublime flowering of the glassmaker’s art…She, however, had no means of understanding these things, let alone the allegory of suffering and redemption portrayed before her. And so she screamed and, covering her head with her arms, dashed in terror from the place.
Tom has more than a passing interest in the artist Nelly Zhang. A chunk of the book focuses on Nelly’s artworks. She creates works of art, photographs them, and then destroys the original piece. I had little interest in descriptions of Nelly’s art, and this, for me, was the weakest section of the book. So much so that I found myself skipping paragraphs describing art themes and images – an advert of a skipping girl, descriptions of found objects. It was all just a bit too pretentious for my liking.

Any way, what do I know – the book won Australia’s richest literary prize, the NSW Premier’s award. It has also had rave reviews in the broadsheets and is tipped for the Booker. But for me, it was lucky to get ***00

John Self 23rd Jun 2008 23:34

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Hm, not sure whether to be put off by this or to hope that it might be a reversal of the Netherland situation, where your ***** was my ***00... Or indeed a repeat of Cat's Cradle where your ***00 was my ******! Dammit, some consistency wouldn't go amiss, mister!

paddyjoe 24th Jun 2008 10:06

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Give it a try, Mr Self, and we'll then know if we are in complete disagreement on all our reads. I have a gut feeling that it will be a Booker contender, and you'll be forced to read it.

John Self 24th Jun 2008 10:48

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Well it's only a month till the Booker longlist comes out so I doubt I'll get around to it by then. Mind you, I tend to have a gut feeling for the Booker about more or less every qualifying title I see. Edward Hogan's Blackmoor. Mohammad Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes. And so on. I had the same about Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole, though that feeling is diminishing the further I get through it (about 250 pages, with 450 to go...). It's entertaining, mostly a breeze and sometimes funny, but I don't see much evidence of anything behind the surface.

Stewart 24th Jun 2008 10:51

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by John Self (Post 93741)
Well it's only a month till the Booker longlist comes out...

Ach, shite! In a way I'm wanting to read the whole longlist again, which means I need to step up my reading of those I'm going to see in Edinburgh and to get that backlog of review copies out of the way.

John Self 24th Jun 2008 11:13

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Well the longlist comes early this year - 29 July - and it's six weeks between that and the shortlist on 9 September, so that gives a rate of two books a week even if you haven't read any of them already. Probably feasible.

Stewart 24th Jun 2008 13:14

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by John Self (Post 93744)
Well the longlist comes early this year - 29 July - and it's six weeks between that and the shortlist on 9 September, so that gives a rate of two books a week even if you haven't read any of them already. Probably feasible.

Hopefully, it will be a number of slimmish volumes. After Self Help, The Gift Of Rain, Animal's People, Darkmans, and the imagined extra 500 pages of Winnie And Wolf, it would be nice to find they were all On Chesil Beaches.

John Self 24th Jun 2008 13:30

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Well there are a lot of fatties that could qualify this year:
  • Adam Mars-Jones, Pilcrow (520 pages)
  • Andrew Crumey, Sputnik Caledonia (520 pages)
  • Richard Kelly, Crusaders (500+)
  • Philip Hensher, The Northern Clemency (730)
  • Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole (720)
  • Amitav Ghosh, The Sea of Poppies (400+)

margaret 30th Jun 2008 6:31

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
I just finished this and I quite liked it. It was quick to read which was nice, with a sort of mystery to add a bit of drive to my reading. I did love the descriptions of Melbourne and Australia in general - also my favourite thing about Carey's His Illegal Self. I found all of Tom's 'arty' crowd unbearable though, and a wee bit two dimensional perhaps. My copy had an incredibly hideous cover which also put me off a little, shallow though that might be. ****0 .

Ang 30th Jun 2008 8:37

Re: Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog
 
Welcome margaret. Are you "margaretnz" on the Booker forum?


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