MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger

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

Funeral for a Dog

A Novel

by Thomas Pletzinger

Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger X
Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 322 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


An award-winning novel about complicated relationships, personal isolation and the unpredictable messiness of life

Picking up Pletzinger's literary tour de force, Funeral for a Dog, feels like crashing a party that is in full swing by the time you walk in the door. If you've ever entered a roomful of people you don't know, but who all know each other, you can relate. It may take some time and some trust in Pletzinger's authorial skill to get into the groove of the book - and maybe a glass or two of wine - but in the end, your efforts will be worthwhile. In Funeral for a Dog, the party-crashing aura exists because the novel begins with the ending - and not some old, trite or tired ending, but with an involved message spaced out across seven picture postcards of Italy's gorgeous Lugano Lake District. Lake LuganoThe postcards are from somebody named Daniel to a woman named Elisabeth; they have no context, they make no sense... yet. But pour yourself a glass of nice Chablis and settle in...

Soon and in no time at all, the story's bare bones are laid out. Newspaper journalist Daniel Mandelkern is on assignment to interview and compose a profile of children's book author Dirk Svensson. But Daniel is not really a trained journalist. He is a cultural anthropologist who definitely finds the journalistic mantle an uncomfortable fit, a profession forced on him by his wife and editor Elisabeth. At the outset of the story, Daniel's portion of the narrative is cryptic, comprised of his notes and observations for the article on Svensson. Because he continually refers to textbook anthropology for advice on how to profile people, Daniel's notes are more scientific in flavor than they are journalistic. He observes Svensson as if he were another species, like an animal researcher taking notes at the zoo.

Svensson, for his part, does not make Daniel's difficult assignment any easier. Unlike most authors I've known, he doesn't want to be interviewed, much less profiled in some German newspaper. Unfortunately for Daniel, he has arrived at Svensson's doorstep on the anniversary of a very sad day in the author's life. Worse, Svensson's beloved dog Lua is old and terminally ill, likely to die at any moment. There could not be a more inopportune time for entertaining a houseguest, especially a nosy newspaper writer in search of a story. It's too bad that, despite Daniel's observations, questions, and even his reading of Svensson's personal journal, no one (not even the reader) gets to know Svensson. As witnessed in his stream-of-consciousness, meandering narrative, Svensson remains, "a strange man," a scattered, unfettered collage of people, places and things.

Daniel, on the other hand, becomes an open book. Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich is credited with saying, "The movies we love and admire are, to some extent, a function of who we are when we see them." This observation is no less true of the notes that Daniel Mandelkern composes while visiting Dirk Svensson - they are indeed a function of who he is. From the argument with Elisabeth over whether or not they should have a child, to the ambivalent kiss he shares with Svensson's friend and former lover Tuuli, Daniel's notes all come to be about Daniel, by Daniel, for Daniel. As he says, "I take notes to leave a trail, each word a pebble, each sentence a row of little stones."

When Daniel tells Elisabeth that their lives, "are a spiral, not a line," it is an apposite metaphor for the swirling interconnectedness of life's experiences. From love to loss, from birth to death there is no straight line, no single thread untouched and untouchable by others. As this is the character of Pletzinger's novel, so too is it the character of life itself, and while some may not enjoy nonlinear storytelling - or the messiness of life - those who do will be richly rewarded here.

Photo of Lake Lugano including Monte San Giorgio and the Melide bridge (photo from Wikimedia Commons, not Funeral For a Dog)

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review is from the Funeral for a Dog. It first ran in the April 6, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Color of Air
    The Color of Air
    by Gail Tsukiyama
    Daniel was raised in Hilo, Hawaii by Japanese immigrant parents. Having traveled to the U.S. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Woman Before Wallis
    by Bryn Turnbull

    The true story of the American divorcée who captured the Prince's heart before Wallis.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Hieroglyphics
    by Jill McCorkle

    A mesmerizing novel about piecing together the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Last Flight
by Julie Clark

The story of two women and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.