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

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Stood in the hallway in front of the floor-length mirror and finished off the wine. Looked at the blood on me, the streaks next to my belly button, and from behind me Elisabeth reached into the dried blood on my cock, into her own dried blood on my cock and in my pubic hair, and said, Tomorrow in the battle think on me (my cock a blunt sword; Elisabeth and I warlike: we grind ourselves dull against each other, we strike our blades jagged). As I was about to wash off the blood in the bathroom, Elisabeth was sitting on the toilet and said, you know, Daniel Mandelkern, I’m waiting for you to decide (the bluntness of pissing women).

Elisabeth was waiting for a decision, I was standing all sticky in front of the sink. She brushed her hair back behind her ears and reached for the toilet paper. Mandelkern? I must have been staring at her. Daniel? She wiped herself clean and flushed. Suddenly Elisabeth was everywhere: I saw and heard and smelled and tasted her, her blood on me, her wine in my mouth, I felt for my swollen lip, my tongue ran over the fine cut on the inside, which was still bleeding (her accidental elbow). You look like an idiot staring at a math test, said Elisabeth. Did I understand what she’d said? Yes, I said, and kept staring, no, I said, maybe (dashboardgearshift-Italy-university-Mandelkern-Hamburg-Berkeley-blood-almond-ethnology-time-Barolo-Breton-child-Renault-Anne-Laura-Eva-Hornberg-CarolinaOne-PetShopBoys-Katrin-Britta-paternoster-Kolberg-matrilineality-Geertz-Svensson-octahedron-aquarium-aquarium-couvade-Venasque-Malinowski-nostalgiatourists). One minute, I said, and spit in the bathtub. I turned my back on Elisabeth and shut the bathroom door behind me, I gathered up my scattered clothes and got the folders from the dark kitchen. Then I took the suitcase and left.

my headings, my categories
I’m actually an ethnologist. In America I’m a cultural anthropologist. I observe people, I collect conversations, I probe hierarchies, I take pictures, I sort texts, I catalogue materials, I assemble my ideas. In England I’m a social anthropologist. For almost two years I’ve been writing for Elisabeth’s editorial department. I’ve questioned and profiled people for her, I’ve taken down life stories in shorthand and summarized worldviews, I’ve fulfilled her requests. I conduct interviews and write portraits, framed by days of silence in airplanes, hotels, and bus stations. I take notes because I want to put things in order (I want to sort myself out).

Why take notes instead of going back?
I hold the pen in my hand and write, I make a note of myself (Daniel Mandelkern). I don’t let much pass without remark, I make a note of almost everything (airport terminals, newspapers, cigarette prices, black German shepherds with three legs). I write my body: diarrhea, three-and-a-half liters of wine last night, the two of us. I’m still waiting alone at the gate. The red wine didn’t agree with me (headache). Later I want to write Elisabeth’s hair, her blood on me, still later the chatter a few seats down, the two Italian women are still sitting there, my Italian is miserable, hence the word “chatter.” I make a note of my anxiety, my happiness and hesitation, I write:

Elisabeth Elisabeth Elisabeth,

the third time with distinct reproach in my handwriting. I make a note that it doesn’t do you any good to be married to your boss, that it’s wrong to work for your wife, that a child won’t solve our problem. That it can’t go on like this, Elisabeth! With a paper cup of coffee and my first cigarette in months, I’m sitting in the nonsmoking waiting area of the Hamburg Airport. I write “nonsmoking waiting area” even though I’m now smoking, even though no one besides me is waiting (so much for truth).

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

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.