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The lost dog : a novel by Michelle. De…

The lost dog : a novel (edition 2007)

by Michelle. De Kretser

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2831239,844 (3.39)1 / 84
Title:The lost dog : a novel
Authors:Michelle. De Kretser
Info:New York : Little, Brown and Co., c2007.
Collections:Your library
Tags:literature, australian author

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The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser


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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I've been really getting into Aussie fiction as of late. This is an author I've not read before but she has a very interesting writing style. She's actually Sri Lankan but has been living in Australia for most of her life. The protagonist of this novel also immigrated to Australia when he was a teenager after beginning it in India. The novel doesn't focus on race nearly as much as it does aging, family, and a mysterious sort of relationship between a writer and an artist. One thing disarming about the novel is the sheer honesty and absence of kitsch that is apparent throughout the text, especially when tackling the nature of the relationship between the protagonist and his mother. I also liked how it left somewhat open ended in solving a mystery that we very slowly gain bits of pieces of information about, as the main character himself does, throughout the story. The lost dog is, in some ways, what ties it all together but in a completely different way seems to be a metaphor for something very important that is unfathomly found eventually.

Some memorable quotes:

p.85 "Tom said the scene reminded him of a woodcut in an old book of children's tales. It was like something remembered from a dream, said Nelly. 'Something marvelous and strange you can almost see under the skin of reality.'

p.146 "A perfect city is one you can walk out of."

p.183 "As long as we stay with Audrey, we have a roof over our heads. What can go wrong if you have a roof over your head?"

"It can fall in and crush you," said Tom.

p.233 "Tom knew that a lucky country was one where history happened to other people."

p.248-249 "To possess a city fully, it is necessary to have known it as a child, for children bring their private cartographies to the mapping of public places."

p. 285 "She sculpted the past according to whim, as a child plays with the future, each having an abundance of material."

"How could you know when something was the last time? wondered Iris. The last time a stranger turned to look at you in the street, the last time you could stand up while putting on your knickers, the last time there was no pain when you tried to turn over in bed, the last time you imagined your life would change for the better..."

p.298 "What was overwhelming, however, was the astonishment: the sheer scandal of falling. Tom was returned, in one swift instant, to childhood; for children, not having learned to stand on their dignity, are accustomed to being slapped by the earth."
( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
**** A Henry James Question.;
I still don't have time for writing reviews until end of semester - else I'll fail my course & I have missed too many days this month with this consumptive-like cough to warrant that happening without fueling the fire. Anyhow I could not comment on this one till I had read some Henry James (of which I've now read one novella of his - In the Cage). Why the need to read Henry James? Other's have likened de Kretser's writing to James and also the main character in The Lost Dog is writing a book on James. So far there is no obvious connection other than intensity of rumination. The link I feel is more tenuous and alludes perhaps to ghosts, which abound here but not In the Cage. Perhaps The Ambassadors which I have, might guide me. Anyone care to suggest another Henry James I should read?. I've look at the GR reviews on various James books, everyone seems to think he's a genius but can't say why? Is there any other author who writes like James that I should be aware of - perhaps more modern that might help me access him?
Library borrow. Something light. thoughts to come. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
The lost dog of the title is the framework on which the rest of this novel hangs. Tom Locksley has borrowed a remote house in the Australian bush belonging to his friend Nelly Zhang while he finishes his book on Henry James. As he prepares to leave and head back to the city his dog runs into the bush after an animal and becomes lost. The novel follows the Tom over the next two weeks as he searches for his dog and deals at the same time with the increasing realisation that his elderly mother can no longer cope on her own. Interwoven with this is the story of Tom's own origins in India: the son of the British Arthur Locksley, a hard-drinking somewhat ineffectual man, and Iris de Sousa, of mixed Portuguse and Indian descent. Expected to marry a European at all costs, in her thirties Iris is forced to set her sights on the initially unprepossessing Arthur, but in post-independence India Arthur's Englishness is no longer the asset it would once have been. And also interwoven is the story of the Tom's more recent relationship with the artist Nelly Zhang and the group of artists who cluster around her.

In particular I enjoyed the story of Iris and Arthur's marriage, and Tom's own childhood in India and then Australia, which illustrate the changing attitudes of the post-colonial world. But I found Tom's obsession with Nelly Zhang and her art a little tedious: I couldn't see her attraction at all. The book flits backwards and forwards constantly in time and place which means it can be a little difficult to place a particular event, but it was full of beautiful vignettes which I would have loved to quote if I hadn't listened to it on audiobook. So overall, a well-written and interesting novel dealing with questions of identity and belonging, but which fell short of being a great read for me. ( )
  SandDune | Mar 1, 2013 |
Tom Loxley is a divorced, childless, Jamesian scholar who is stalled at the end of writing his book. He takes his dog to a friend's cabin in the bush in order to find the inspiration to finish but on a long tramp with the dog, the dog runs away and doesn't return. Tom's sometimes frantic and sometimes desultory search for his lost dog then weaves in and out of the other plot threads, flashbacks all: his childhood in India and then Australia, his marriage and its ultimate failure, his sexually frustrated obsession with his artist friend Nelly Zhang, and (the only non-flashback) of his mother's aging diminishment.

There are a wealth of themes weaving throughout the tale. There's that of the immigrant and the outcast; there's familial duty and the inheritance of the past. Loss and redemption as well as desire and denial play their own enormous roles as the story builds to its climax. Despite the small action guiding the story, the search for the dog keeps the reader engaged and slightly tensed wanting an outcome even as Tom's life up until the loss of his dog unfolds slowly and with great deliberation reflecting the alternating hope and futility of the search itself.

The writing here is often times dense and rich in meaning with de Kretser showing her deftness with apt metaphors. Her descriptions are minute and startlingly accurate, a decided strength in a story with such an insubstantial plot driving the tale. If there's a weakness here, it's in the characters. Tom himself is hard to like, aimless and as stuck in his life as the conclusion of his scholarly research. Nelly Zhang is eccentric but stand-offish, even to the reader, exploiting her racial identity when it suits. And the long intervening amounts of text between when hints of mystery and understanding are dropped and when their threads are finally reintroduced into the story can induce a sense of frustration in a reader more accustomed to a straightforward writing style. But even with these considerations, it is clear that de Kretser is an accomplished and stylish writer. In the end, while I found it hard to sympathize or care for any of the characters, I wanted to know what happened to the dog, was impressed by the calibre of the prose, and amazed by the dexterity of keeping all the disparate plots going and ultimately interconnected. I look forward to reading de Kretser's other works. ( )
1 vote whitreidtan | Feb 18, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031600183X, Hardcover)

Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush. Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend.
Tom has preoccupations other than his book and Nelly and his missing dog, mainly concerning his mother, who is suffering from the various indignities of old age. He is constantly drawn from the cerebral to the primitive--by his mother's infirmities, as well as by Nelly's attractions. THE LOST DOG makes brilliant use of the conventions of suspense and atmosphere while leading us to see anew the ever-present conflicts between our bodies and our minds, the present and the past, the primal and the civilized.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the bush. Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend. She is indirect on some important matters and withholds affection, but she is also entertaining and generous with her time."… (more)

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