Outside the Dog Museum Hardcover – Apr 11 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
If you didn't know that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym, you might wonder if this Carroll ( A Child Across the Sky ) might be a relative. He, too, uses fanciful jests to point up common absurdities and makes fantasy seem altogether tangible. Here his narrator is a curmudgeonly genius, the aphorizing architect Harry Radcliffe, who, with the aid of a maverick therapist, has recently recovered from a mental collapse and is ready to reexamine his constructs of reality. He's also rebounding from an amicable divorce and conducts affairs with two fabulous females. Various developments--including an earthquake from which Radcliffe's party is miraculously rescued by a Middle Eastern sultan and the therapist's dog--oblige Radcliffe to accept the sultan's commission to build a vast dog museum. When war breaks out in the sultan's realm and he is killed, his son--a romantic rival for one of Radcliffe's lady loves--presses Radcliffe to build the museum on his property in Austria and promises to pay in magic. After further astonishing feats (leaping into other identities, the momentary reincarnation of the dead, etc.) the picaresque tone, surprisingly, yields at the end to a reprise of a biblical theme, turning this spirited novel into something like a moral tale.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Another surreal trip into magic realism by Carroll (A Child Across the Sky, 1990, etc.). This starts as if Carroll is going to rein in his fantasy, but the floor soon turns to Vaseline and the reader finds himself looking for handholds. Meanwhile, Harry Radcliffe, prize-winning architect, has a nervous breakdown while trying to hold onto two women at once, both of whom know about each other. Harry is being wooed by the Sultan of Saru to build a billion-dollar dog museum in Saru (a Mideast state where dogs are loathed): the Sultan thinks dogs are his best friends, his life having been saved three times by dogs. Harry's triangle with Claire and Fanny is not helped by a heavy California earthquake that takes Claire's hand. Harry tries to get a grip on his future by befriending a shaman, Venasque (who appeared in Sleeping in Flame, 1989, and will remind some of Castenada's Don Juan), who owns an amazing pig and dog. Venasque takes Harry through otherworldly learning experiences, then dies, as does his pig (he needs the pig for a later magical Austrian one- year-old who speaks English). Harry finally accepts the Sultan's offer and has an epiphany in his shower, seeing the museum as a kind of train engine standing on end like a steel ziggurat. As it happens, the museum can't be built in Saru, and so is built by Arab, American, and Austrian workmen in Austria. When Arab terrorists bomb this tower of Babel, God rebuilds the fallen structure, but only a third of the way: He is not completely happy with Harry's masterpiece. Though this summary barely suggests the greasy details and slippery path of the story, Carroll is admirable in going his own happy way as a cult writer. But his magic seldom takes a memorable turn or finds the unforgettable moment that draws the reader back to reexperience a serious beauty. Each page feels like a magpie's pastiche. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, this book is cursed with too much glibness-- the achilles heel that sometimes makes Carroll feel dangerously like a more esoteric Tom Robbins. Still, a clever, well-written, and generally entertaining book.
Outside the Dog Museum always encourages me in ways I most want to be encouraged. I love this book. More than any other.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Caroll's fine prose is written in a breezy, almost conversational, style, that works well in his depictions of the protagonist, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Harry Radcliffe, and his intense personal and romantic relationship with both of his mistresses, Claire and Fanny, who know each other well. After winning his award - and recovering from a recent divorce through the aid of a bizarre mental therapist - Radcliffe is offered a commission by the Sultan of Saru - a fictitious Gulf State emirate - to be a dog museum in honor of the sultan's late father, the previous ruler of the emirate. What follows is a series of fascinating, and occasionally confusing, adventures and misadventures for Harry Radcliffe set in both the emirate and Vienna, Austria - where the museum is ultimately built. Not only must he contend with his complex personal relationships with both of his mistresses and his therapist, Harry is unexpectedly confronted with a fundamentalist Islamic rebellion against the Sultan of Saru within his emirate. Until the very end Carroll does a fine literary juggling act, but his less than memorable conclusion is the main reason why his fine novel isn't earning my highest praise.
If you are familiar with Carroll, Outside the Dog Museum will be as good as you've come to expect from this fine author; if you are not familiar with Carroll, do your mind a favor and expand it a bit!
Also, check out the author's web site for short stories, plays, etc.: [...]
I think it is because of this that I still gave this book a four star. The book is great, until you begin to get to the end and wonder where it was going. It had a fluid storyline that developed and intrigued the reader, but then it turns into something that didn't have a connection (or, at the most, a very loose connection) to what was written before it. But, all in all, a story was told and ideas were perceived, not to mention the smooth and enjoyable fluidity of his words, which creates a book worth reading.