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The dogs of Babel
Carolyn Parkhurst
Adult Fiction PARKHUR

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From Publishers' Weekly:

It's a terrific high concept: a woman falls from a backyard tree and dies; the only witness is the family dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. To find out what happened-accident? suicide?-her grieving husband tries to teach the dog to talk. Parkhurst's debut novel has been getting a lot of pre-pub attention (see PW's First Fiction feature, Jan. 27), probably mostly for this concept, because the execution of this first novel is flawed. The tantalizing prospect of linguistics professor Paul Iverson attempting to teach Lorelei to talk is given short, and erratically plotted, shrift. Paul's narration oscillates between his present-day experiences and the backstory of his romance with Lexy Ransome, a mask maker. The two meet when Paul drops by Lexy's yard sale, buys a device for shaping hard-boiled eggs into squares, then returns with a bunch of square eggs ("And we stood there smiling, with the plate between us, the egg-cubes glowing palely in the growing dark"). This incident, a maxi-combo of cute and sentimental, defines much of the couple's love story (on their first date, Lexy whisks them off to DisneyWorld), marking much of this novel as a sentimental, manipulative romance not unlike James Patterson's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas; some readers will adore it, while others will gag even as the pages darken toward tragedy. Few will relish the sketchy account of Paul's work with the dog, which goes nowhere until it veers, bizarrely and unbelievably, toward an underground group performing illegal surgical experiments on dogs. Parkhurst is a fluid stylist, and there are memorable moments here, as well as some terrific characters (particularly the enigmatic Lexy), but one gets the sense of an author trying to stuff every notion she's ever had into her first book, with less than splendid results. Simultaneous Time Warner audio. (June 16) Forecast: Chosen as a BOMC main selection, and with the Little, Brown marketing machine behind it, Parkhurst's novel will sell, though bestsellerdom may be hard won. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

After the fall that killed his wife stops looking like an accident, linguist Paul Iverson hopes to train his dog, Lorelei, to communicate so that he can uncover the truth. This debut has generated lots of talk. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Paul Iverson
Male
Widower
His wife died; linguistics professor.
Professor

Lorelei
Female
Dog
Rhodesian Ridgeback; witnessed Paul's wife's death.

Lexy Ransome
Female
Enigmatic; brilliant; passionate; mask maker.
Artist



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