How often do you open a book, read a few pages and become captured by the story, the writing, the imagination of the author? Alexis’s Fifteen Dogs had me from the first sentence, “One evening in Toronto, the gods Apollo and Hermes were at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern”. You know immediately there is going to be a punch line to this story.
And what a story it is. I’m not going to spoil your reading pleasure (and you must read this book) by revealing the plot. Only that dogs do die, so those who cannot abide animal reality should not indulge in this wonderful story.
André Alexis is Canadian and has just been awarded Canada’s Windham-Campbell Prize for his body of work. So why don’t we know more about him? Ah, Canadian? Not so exciting; perhaps a bit intellectual; published by a small Canadian house and therefore lacking the publicity machine?
Alexis refers to Fifteen Dogs as part of a Quincuix (a series of five interlocking novels that investigate the idea of faith, of community, of morality, of humanity). Fifteen Dogs is Quincuix II, an apologue or moral fable often using animals as characters. Each part of the Quincuix is written in a different genre: a pastoral, an apologue, a ghost story, a quest, and a romance. Pastoral is Quincuix I and The Hidden Keys is Quincuix III.
Don’t miss is wonderful, quirky, amusing, sad book. I plan to dive into I and III immediately.