Excerpt from Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Funeral for a Dog

A Novel

By Thomas Pletzinger

Funeral for a Dog
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback: Mar 2011,
    322 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt



my thin skin
Why a bus now, of all things? But I can’t get off and walk the few meters to the airplane (departure begins with the hiss of the hydraulic doors). The accordion bus only half full, with colorful summer shirts, a few carry-on travelers and frequent fliers, most of them on the phone. I have to put up with the rocking (in the mirror over the bus door: red wine residue on my lips). The wine didn’t agree with me, the wine was just too much wine. I wonder if I should call Elisabeth. I’d wake her, and then I wouldn’t be the only one feeling wretched. She’ll want to go on sleeping despite her headache (our last, half-empty bottle next to the red digits of the alarm clock). I’d have to explain to her why I left. I’d have to talk about decisions and wanting a child and life plans. I’d have to tell Elisabeth I’m having doubts about marriage (about our marriage). I might utter the word “divorce,” I might quote my mother: it’s not what you say but how you say it. I don’t call, I buried my telephone in the suitcase (such thoughts, such strategies, such cruelties).


Suomi
A few seats in front of me on the bus, a woman with a child. It’s not the green of her tank top that makes me notice her. She lights a cigarette. The woman is very small, her back slightly bent, the vertebrae on the nape of her neck clearly visible, short blonde hair held back by a tacky hair band (pink roses on a black background), her flowered skirt a little too short (her feet are resting on the wheel hump). I see her from behind, I have a hard time imagining a face to go with this back and this hair band. She has no baggage, in her small hand she’s holding only a pack of cigarettes and a passport (Suomi—Finland). She’s smoking even though it’s prohibited (like me). The boy clutches a small, light-blue backpack on his lap. Three, maybe five years old, I can’t tell the ages of children (his light hair—her light hair). Hard to imagine: her body as the body of a mother. Elisabeth is longer-limbed than this woman (Elisabeth with the skin of a redhead, her age is visible only in the corners of her eyes and around the caesarean scar below her belly button). Nonsmoking bus! cries a man, but the woman ignores him and turns around to me as if I were the one who had admonished her. She smiles at me (obstinate and condescending, Elisabeth is a master of this exact same expression). The boy whispers something in her ear. The Nordic sky outside the windows hangs over the pines (airfield, Niendorf), the bright asphalt, and the engines. The woman turns back around and strokes the boy’s hair, gives him the passport and the pack of cigarettes, he stows them in his backpack (she’s careful not to blow smoke in his direction). The bus leans into one last turn and stops by a small plane. I’m going to take a walk around the airplane now, Mama, says the boy. He takes the backpack and climbs carefully off the bus. His eyes scrutinize his mother behind the bus window.

She stays where she is until the driver finally asks her to get off, and she stamps out the cigarette on the airfield with her heel as pointedly as if the driver were the one in the wrong (dark-green Converse). The boy carries his small backpack up the stairs (one step at a time, his legs are too short), stops for a moment in front of the oval door and takes a big step over the threshold without looking back. Only then does she follow him, and I her.


Flight LH 3920
I ended up getting a window seat, and the airplane turns me away from the terminal. I notice a gray heron standing on the other side of the airfield, it soars into the air and disappears in the bright fog. The business travelers around me are talking on their phones, a crash caused by the use of electronic devices on board is now briefly my only worry. I don’t have to be warned, even though I don’t understand what telephones and computers have to do with the navigation of an airplane (I buried my telephone in my luggage). In the row in front of me, the woman in the green tank top, next to her the blond boy is standing on the seat and looking at me (light blue eyes, no resemblance in their faces). The woman climbs up on the seat too and takes a book out of the backpack in the overhead compartment (her somewhat too-round face and her tired eyes).

Excerpted from Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, translated by Ross Benjamin. Copyright (c) 2008 by Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln. The translation of this work was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut which is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. English translation copyright (c) 2011 by Ross Benjamin. Originally published in German under the title Bestattung eines Hundes. Used by permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Challenges of Translation

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  162The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.