Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: Memoirs of a Bad Dog by Curtis Moser

by M. J. Joachim

It is a story about a “bad” dog, which unbeknownst to me, illustrates how dogs live in a very parallel universe to humans, a paradox to be sure. Moser tried diligently at humor, perhaps he tried too hard sometimes, but once in a while it was fairly easy to smile at some of the scenarios he portrayed. Other times it was all I could do to get through the overly detailed episodes, complete with dogs lifting their legs, leaving poops in obscure places as revenge on the people who wronged them, and journeying for miles and days to atone for their past mistakes, all the while getting into more and more escapades, some easy enough to read through and others that were flat out boring.

It’s the focus that threw me for a loop the most. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a cute doggie story, a parable or fable to get humans to think, a comedy told through the eyes of a dog or a person trying resolve past issues and hoping their work helped others in similar situations do the same. It was sort of like reading bits and pieces of every dog story ever told, complete with the line “all dogs go to heaven,” tossing in a multitude of ancient proverbs, words of wisdom and famous (human) quotes, peculiarly well-spaced so the story could be told, in an effort to give hope and healing to readers, who obviously will be human, unless of course that parallel universe I mentioned earlier goes both ways.

So it is no surprise that I had finished reading through about 50% of this book prior to summer, only to pick it up again this week and start reading where I left off. I was needlessly concerned I might need to backtrack or start reading the book all over again.

Instead I discovered that the story was exactly as I left it, refreshing my memory of how dogs sniff butts, make endless clouds of foul smelling aromas and continue living without a second thought. If you’ve ever observed a dog for days on end, they’re lives are actually pretty boring, even if they do chase cats and steal food from time to time.

Memoirs of a Bad Dog would benefit from being much shorter. Twenty-seven chapters, 230 pages, was just way too long for me to read about dogs being dogs and doing what dogs do. I will give kudos to Moser for bringing attention to animal cruelty, however. A lot of the scrapes and shenanigans taking place was centered around some pretty intense topics like illegal dog fights and loose dogs captured and locked up at the pound. Moser was sensitive and thoughtful to highlight animal cruelty in his story this way.

All in all, the book simply didn’t capture my attention the way I’d hoped it would, and I’m a dog person, so that was the biggest disappointment of all.

Have you read any good animal stories lately? Please share their title in the comments. Thanks.

M. J.

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