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Funeral for a Dog: A Novel by Thomas…

Funeral for a Dog: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Thomas Pletzinger, Ross Benjamin (Translator)

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11529104,954 (3.43)3
Title:Funeral for a Dog: A Novel
Authors:Thomas Pletzinger
Other authors:Ross Benjamin (Translator)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2011), Paperback, 322 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, german, novel

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Funeral for a Dog: A Novel by Thomas Pletzinger (2011)


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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
German writer Thomas Pletzinger and his translator Ross Benjamin achieve remarkable success with this first novel told by an ethnologist acting as a journalist who seeks to interview a reclusive children’s author living on Lake Lugano in Italy. Three stories are told, the first in New York on September 11th, next at the lakeside vacation home, and earlier in NE Brazil where the three protagonists meet and find Lua, the dog of the title, plus bits in Finland and Germany. The book is about memory and time and the truth of overlapping events recorded by the players and by the ethnologist who strives and fails to “maintain distance” and record the story as he ponders his own life choices. The structure is challenging, densely written, short chapters going back and forth between narrators and time periods. It is difficult to distinguish the characters from each other at first, but within the first quarter of the book, it became easier to identify the who and the where and give oneself over to the story. The women seem the stronger characters while the men flail restlessly between drinking bouts and trying to find the truth about their feelings through their writing or avoiding it in activity. “Writing cannot produce truth.” [As the author pitches his adult novel overboard, I think of Hemingway’s missing manuscript left on the train by first wife, Hadley.] The detail is noticeable and meticulous in producing the quiet strength of this absorbing book. ( )
  featherbooks | Dec 1, 2013 |
Totally exceeded expectations. Great writing, great translation, very spacey story. ( )
  mabroms | Sep 3, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from the Early Reviewers program because it seemed like the sort of thing I'd like: a journalist sent off to discover the secrets of a reclusive children's author. Unfortunately I couldn't make myself care about either point of view character and just couldn't bring myself to finish it.
  kbuxton | Jan 17, 2013 |
This novel tries to make use of multiple inter-cut stories and POVs to talk about men "finding themselves" -- Daniel is emasculated by his aggressive, red-headed wife, Svensson is awkwardly tiptoe-ing around a menage a trois, and they're both obsessed with this dying dog who functions as nothing more than a symbol... for all the "experimental" trappings of this story, I couldn't bring myself to care about any of these characters. ( )
  amydross | Jan 2, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Life is a spiral; not a line.

Daniel Mandelkern, a German journalist, puts this in a postcard to his wife/editor, who has sent him to Lake Lugano, Italy to write a 3,000 word piece on reclusive children’s book author Dirk Svensson. This conclusion comes to him after spending a lost weekend at Svensson’s ramshackle lakeside cottage, drinking Bombay gin by the glassful, smoking incessantly, lusting after Svensson’s lady-friend, Tulli, and watching Svensson’s three-legged dog, Lua, slowly die of old age.

Mandelkern lives an orderly life with his wife Elizabeth in Hamburg. She is his boss at work and at home - having insisted that he abandon his ethnology studies to work as a writer at her magazine. She is older than he is by five years and was married when they first got together. We see in flashbacks that she is sexually aggressive and dictatorial. At the outset of the novel, they have had an argument (possibly about having children) and he leaves for the assignment in Italy abruptly without settling things.

When Mandelkern arrives at Svensson’s place, the house is a shambles, the power is out and there is a mass of broken down furniture (including a smashed computer screen) piled in the front garden. Svensson is completely evasive, often leaving Daniel alone with Tulli, a visiting Finnish beauty from his past, and her young son. Early on, the stark contrast between Daniel’s rather structured life and Dirk’s boho excesses had me expecting some sort of a Teutonic version of Zorba the Greek and, while this assessment isn’t entirely off the mark, Funeral for a Dog is much darker and more complex than that.

Working with only sparse notes, a copy of Svensson’s children’s story, The Story of Leo and the Notmuch, and without the author’s cooperation, Mandelkern is completely frustrated until he discovers a hidden manuscript written by Svensson which details his days in New York and South America with Tulli and their deceased friend, Felix Baumeister. In between bouts of covertly reading the memoir, Mandelkern draws on his training as an ethnologist (a sort of ethnic anthropologist) to blend into Svensson and Tulli’s lives in hopes of establishing an angle for the article that will satisfy his wife, but he actually comes away from the experience learning more about himself than Svensson. He realizes that a life cannot be summed up in 3,000 words, that people cannot be so neatly categorized, that things aren’t always as they seem and that life is a spiral; not a line.

* Warning: This book depicts scenes of animal cruelty - including a graphic cockfight, descriptions of how medics experimented on dogs in Vietnam and the amputation of Lua’s leg. Not for everyone. ( )
  blakefraina | Oct 10, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393337251, Paperback)

“The kind of writing that makes us want to read the whole book as soon as possible; a shot of adrenaline that immediately takes us to a new world.”—David Varno, Words Without Borders

Journalist Daniel Mandelkern leaves Hamburg on assignment to interview Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author who lives alone on the Italian side of Lake Lugano with his three-legged dog. Mandelkern has been quarreling with his wife (who is also his editor); he suspects she has other reasons for sending him away.After stumbling on a manuscript of Svensson's about a complicated ménage à trois, Mandelkern is plunged into mysteries past and present. Rich with anthropological and literary allusion, this prize-winning debut set in Europe, Brazil, and New York, tells the parallel stories of two writers struggling with the burden of the past and the uncertainties of the future. Funeral for a Dog won the prestigious Uwe-Johnson Prize, and critics raved: "Pletzinger's debut is a real smash hit. It's been a long time since a young German writer has thrown himself into the hurly-burly of life and literature with so much intelligence and bravado" (Wolfgang Hobel, Der Spiegel).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:07 -0400)

Winner of the prestigious Uwe-Johnson Prize, this novel tells of a journalist on assignment to interview a reclusive children's author who is plunged into mysteries both past and present upon discovering a manuscript about a complicated menage a trois.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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