"Lives of the Monster Dogs," by Kirsten Bakis. FSG. 290...

Book Brief

March 02, 1997|By RICHARD EDER | RICHARD EDER,LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Lives of the Monster Dogs," by Kirsten Bakis. FSG. 290 pages. $23.

Augustus Rank, a Faustian symbol of scientific and technological arrogance, has decided to develop a breed of dog able to speak, stand erect and handle guns. The work goes on for nearly a century. Rank dies and successors take over. Tens of thousands of dogs are tortured and mutilated.

Eventually the experiement succeds. Large dogs with fully developed human intelligencesthat walk upright and are fitted with perfectly functioning prosthetic hands and artificial voice-boxes, are created.

The dogs are tragic protagonists and witnesses to their Job-like story. Their god Rank has mutilated their natures and grafted human faculties onto them so as to give them lethal power, yet these same faculties make its exercise inconceivable. They are stripped of nature and role.

This parable suggests that God is malevolent as well as gone and that before he left he shorted our circuits.

The author has written "Monster Dogs" in a style that is powerful and jarring. Some of it is crude, and deliberately so.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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