Now a major film - the enchanting story of a very remarkable dog from the author of the bestselling Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
Louis de Bernieres is the best-selling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent books are The Dust That Falls From Dreams, Birds Without Wings and A Partisan's Daughter, a collection of stories, Notwithstanding, and a collection of poetry, Imagining Alexandria.
The best stories about animals are really stories about the people who form bonds with them, and therein lies the central fault of this extremely slender effort from the celebrated author of Corelli's Mandolin. Apparently, de Berni?res was so taken with a statue of a sheepdog he found in an unnamed town in Australia that he had to uncover the sources that fed the local legend. He transformed them into this picaresque narrative, a series of tall tales, written in a self-consciously folksy style about the animal known variously as Red Dog, Tally Ho and Bluey. Because de Berni?res anthropomorphizes him, Red Dog comes across as all too human, while the people who know and love him are mere stick figures; the author acknowledges he "invented" them and it shows. While the dog does possess an uncanny ability to make his wants and needs known (more probably, it's the uncanny predilection for humans to interpret the dog's various "communications"), these tall tales simply aren't tall enough. To be effective, the anecdotes that make up the book should be surprising, amazing or at the very least delightful, but Red Dog's adventures are mundane. The dog is clearly meant to evoke the pioneering Australian's conception of himself: independent, resourceful, footloose and stubborn. Red Dog is also prone to aggressive flatulence, presumably not an element of the Australian character. No doubt there was an Australian sheepdog that was well-loved by a circle that transcended a single family or even a town, but it's a stretch to turn that idea into a book, even one as slight as this one. Dog lovers might bite, but other readers should beware. The book is charmingly illustrated by Alan Baker, and includes a useful glossary of "Australianisms." (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
De Bernieres brilliantly evokes the red heat of Australian summers.
Heat lifts off the pages: turning them is like opening furnace
doors * Spectator *
When I finished the final chapter I immediately extended a sought-after invitation to my dog to spend the night on the bed * Observer *
Contains some of his best writing * Sunday Times *
It's a novel that will appeal to everyone whether they're dog-lovers or not. * Daily Express *