on September 11, 2010
Disciple of the Dog continues Bakker's exploration of the human psyche, this time through the narrative structure of the private eye novel. Disciple Manning is a far cry from Philip Marlowe though; he's a victim of a neurological disorder rendering him incapable of forgetting even the tiniest detail of his past. This creates a tension: the character desperately wants to be able to forget, like normal people, but his capacity gives him an edge in his investigations.
Much like Bakker's other works, the strength of the writing comes from the depths of the ideas being discussed, the raw emotional content and descriptive prowess. While there are plot twists, if you're expecting an excruciatingly convoluted mystery where the case is the focus of the novel you're bound to be disappointed. Manning is also unapologetic about his own character flaws, so readers expecting a readily sympathetic protagonist should steer clear. There is a strong moral component to Manning, but it may take some digging to see it.
That said, this novel is significantly more accessible than Neuropath, although I would be lying if I said it didn't have a deeply subversive edge to it.
I greatly enjoyed Disciple of the Dog for its crass humor, razor-sharp social commentary, and intriguing protagonist. Even if you've only read Bakker for the Prince of Nothing and Aspect-Emperor, strongly consider giving this novel a try.