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Outside the Dog Museum [Hardcover]

Jonathan Carroll
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 11 1991
A prize-winning architect is pursued by the wealthy Sultan of Saru, who wants him to design a billion-dollar dog museum. After a devastating earthquake the Sultan is assassinated, and his son wants the museum built in the Austrian Alps. The author's cult novels include "A Child Across the Sky".

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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.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminds me that True is True March 18 2001
Format:Hardcover
There are books I read again and again. Some of them are old friends who give me a place to come home to, some of them disturb me in ways I need to be disturbed.
Outside the Dog Museum always encourages me in ways I most want to be encouraged. I love this book. More than any other.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Genius, his mistresses, and Big Top April 20 2000
Format:Hardcover
Harry, a famous architect recently recovered from a bout of insanity, has been asked by the Sultan of Saru to build a Dog Museum. The rest of the book is centered around Harry's responses to this request-- refusing, agreeing, making plans, changing plans, understanding and failing to understand. There's lots of Carroll's famous magic realism sprinkled along the way, and at least a little bit of emotional exploration carried out via Harry's relationships with his two very different mistresses.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of action, unrealistic characters April 17 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Lot of wild, zany colorful action. However, the characters (including the narrator) are flat and act with no emotional consistency. Despite the many "profound" realizations, insights, magical occurences, etc., none of the characters really change or develop.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Jonathan Carroll proved that he is one of the best writers in the world. All his books are classics. Outside the dog museum is a book that in few words cant be described in words. Magic and sensitive also combining a supernatural essence this book is one of the best.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating literary trek into magical realism courtesy of Jonathan Carroll Dec 2 2006
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When the likes of fantasy authors as diverse as Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub and Jonathan Lethem are praising Jonathan Carroll's work, offering it the finest compliments that they can muster, then you know that Carroll is an author worthy of your attention (All three provided memorable blurbs in the back cover of this book's paperback edition.). Truly, without question, Carroll is both a memorable writer and a fine literary stylist. However, at least not in "Outside the Dog Museum", should he be regarded as a writer of fantasy. Instead, I concur with another reviewer who noted that this novel is truly a philosophical novel draped in moments of magical realism. Carroll's usage of magical realism may not be as beguiling as those from the likes of Borges and Garcia Marquez for example, but nonetheless, he manages to do a fine job of it in this novel.

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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary writing July 13 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Amazing how this author handles his story... or stories?... there are so many of them. The main impression this novel left in me is the vivacity of its writing. It gives off tremendous energy and I just wonder how you can achieve that in a WRITTEN medium. It's like looking beyond the pages at the reality of the author's mind. Everything's for real, and funny how such a "real" book can contain so many supernatural elements. All in all, I'm amazed by the abilities of Jonathan Carroll.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carroll does it again Feb. 23 2005
By Brian Hawkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Carroll continually amazes me in his writing style. He writes in a way that is both casual and literal, allowing the reader to fully submerge themselves into the story. His dialogue reads as a movie or play and not as a book, creating an image that is fully alive within your mind (such as leaving the tedious details out that many writers feel are necessary, such as a question and answer, where Carroll would state the question and imply an answer by continuing on with the story).

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halfway through. Sept. 15 2013
By Anna - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A philosophical journey regarding what is important in life. An architectural wonder of words and ideas. Buy it. Buy it today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another interesting and surreal novel from Carroll May 31 2009
By audrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Harry Radcliffe lives a complicated life. He's a brilliant architect (if he does say so himself) who's recently recovered from a nervous breakdown. He has two mistresses and a demanding shaman, and now he's being corralled into designing the sultan of Saru's dog museum. Could things get more complicated? Oh yes they can, and do, under the skillful pen of Jonathan Carroll, American magical realist and author of fascinating, intricate novels about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

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.: [...]
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