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Carmen Dog [Paperback]

Carol Emshwiller

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2004 Peapod Classics

“Combines the cruel humor of Candide with the allegorical panache of Animal Farm.”—Entertainment Weekly

"Carol is the most unappreciated great writer we've got. Carmen Dog ought to be a classic in the colleges by now . . . It's so funny, and it's so keen."
—Ursula K. Le Guin

“A rollicking outre satire.... full of comic leaps and absurdist genius.”—Bitch

“A wise and funny book.”—The New York Times

"This trenchant feminist fantasy-satire mixes elements of Animal Farm, Rhinoceros and The Handmaid's Tale.... Imagination and absurdist humor mark [Carmen Dog] throughout, and Emshwiller is engaging even when most savage about male-female relationships."—Booklist

"Her fantastic premise allows Emshwiller canny and frequently hilarious insights into the damaging sex-role stereotypes both men and women perpetuate."
Publishers Weekly

The debut title in our Peapod Classics line, Carol Emshwiller’s genre-jumping debut novel is a dangerous, sharp-eyed look at men, women, and the world we live in.

Everything is changing: women are turning into animals, and animals are turning into women. Pooch, a golden setter, is turning into a beautiful woman—although she still has some of her canine traits: she just can't shuck that loyalty thing—and her former owner has turned into a snapping turtle. When the turtle tries to take a bite of her own baby, Pooch snatches the baby and runs. Meanwhile, there's a dangerous wolverine on the loose, men are desperately trying to figure out what's going on, and Pooch discovers what she really wants: to sing Carmen.

Carmen Dog is the funny feminist classic that inspired writers Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler to create the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press (Nov. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931520089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931520089
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 14.2 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,700,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Emshwiller ( Verging on the Pertinent ) stretches a conceit past the breaking point in this uneven allegory. Women are degenerating into various animals, and female animals are acquiring human characteristics. The men are puzzled, but don't much mindg ; animals, they realize, are ideal companions ("Relationships and responsibilities were less confining. After all, they merely involved dumb animals who were not worth consideration, politeness, time, effort, gifts"). Her fantastic premise allows Emshwiller canny and frequently hilarious insights into the damaging sex-role stereotypes both men and women perpetuate (a dog's visit to a psychologist is a highlight). But she juggles too many genres here--the g plot turns on mad scientists, academic conspiracies, formula romances--without sustaining the reader's interest in the central story of human/animal metamorphoses. Eventually the g social critique is swallowed by increasingly silly scenarios.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

""A novel about women turning into animals and animals turning into women, perhaps the funniest and the cruellest of her books, a sort of feminist Candide. The kindness of the innocent heroine, Pooch, triumphs over cruelty in the end, which is happy; at least it is if you want it to be. Even Pooch's children turn out well, 'setters, and all male.' Why this book isn't a feminist classic I don't know. Maybe it is. Maybe that's why people haven't heard about it. It should be a required text on Gender in all high schools and colleges."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly amusing social commentary Aug. 1 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Women are turning into animals, and animals are turning into women..." What a way to start off a book. Pooch, a dog-girl who longs to play the title role in "Carmen," absconds with a baby whose mother is becoming a turtle. Along the way, she meets many other intriguing characters, among them a snake-woman and a vicious socialite who is quickly becoming what her personality most resembles (namely, a wolverine). And in the meanwhile, the world as we know it is turnig upside-down.
This book was funny; however, the way that it poked fun at gender roles and modern-day society went much deeper than mere humor.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bracing look at the feminist movement Aug. 15 2009
By chilirlw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Women are turning into animals, and some animals are turning into women. Men fuss about what sort of status should be given to the new "humans", and doctors and psychologists are concerned with the prospect of a "takeover" of power and what this will all do to the institution of Motherhood, not to mention a man's privileges and rights. A thought-provoking, witty examination of the women's movement and society's reactions to it, this is a fun book to read that gives one a real feel for what it was like to live through the changes in women's roles in the 60's and 70's.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining Gender Roles and Animals in Strict, Controlling Ways April 30 2012
By G. Messersmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The basic story of this book is very simple: women are turning into animals and some female animals are turning into women. This, of course, puts society into a bit of chaos. So in order to control this chaos some male doctors establish an "Academy of Mothers" to insure that the female humans, whether they always were human or not, continue to reproduce.

The main character is Pooch, a golden setter, who becomes a young woman. Pooch's mistress at the same time is turning into a snapping turtle and when she bites the baby, Pooch takes over raising the child. After a little bit she leaves the family home, where she continues to sleep on a doormat, and takes the child with her. At first she winds up at the pound with some very interesting characters and the baby is left in her care. Then she winds up as an experiment in a lab run by a cold and calculating doctor and assisted by his half-transformed wife, Rosemary. Rosemary will play an even bigger part in the book later on.

Carmen Dog is a very funny and insightful book and don't worry nothing too terribly awful happens to any of the characters unless becoming a snapping turtle sounds horrible. The author shows us how societal roles can inhibit people, women and men alike. This is a funny feminist satire of gender roles, animal/human relationships, and social institutions.

I highly recommend.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Concept Jan. 26 2006
By Quoad Toad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From an animal lover's perspective, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the character, Pooch, who was becoming human after having been a dog. It was interesting to see the dog-like characteristics she kept along with the human characteristics she acquired.

I didn't really care for the feminist tones in this book. I thought men were portrayed in an extremely negative way. Still, I could overlook this and find an interesting story of animals becoming human and humans becoming animals.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars biting satire Sept. 12 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Something strange is going on as the psychiatrist explains to his new patient Pooch the dog that "the beast changes to a woman and the woman changes to a beast". Pooch the dog turned woman worries about the baby as the mother has become a snapping turtle while the father seems mystified about the changes, but not overly concerned. Things come to a head or perhaps a bite when the turtle-mother bites the baby and refuses to let go until Pooch takes a lit match to the neo-beast's neck. Since the father remains uninvolved, pooch decides to flee with the baby for the infant's sake.

However, pooch has to reconsider her decision when they arrive in New York City when the Central Park Wolverine gang threatens them and the scientists at the Academy of Motherhood want to test her and throw away the baby. Men do what they do best; ignore the goings-on as dogs make better companions than women.

Using personification to satirize relationships, especially gender stereotypes, Carol Emshwiller provides an amusing look at acceptable societal roles that stifle people. The story line is at its best when it skewers how humans behave and how we assume "beasts" behave. When it spins into mad scientists on the loose conspiracy, CARMAN DOG loses some of its acerbic bite as the bark becomes louder not keener. Still this is a deep swift satire that will have the audience laughing yet also thinking about its underlying warning that labeling and classifying negatively oversimplifies everyone.

Harriet Klausner

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