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Red Dog Hardcover

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 1740510852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1740510851
  • ASIN: B0007XAX02
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 12.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
We consider Canis familiaris a "domestic breed", but there are some dogs who cannot abide constant human contact. A brief contact, particularly for meals or temporary shelter is enough. Then, it's off again on a fresh exploration or hunt. Such a dog was the rust-coloured kelpie living in Western Australia's Pilbara mining territory. Known as "Red Dog" for obvious reasons, this animal moved through the human community entirely on his own terms. De Bernieres traces much of Red Dog's life, or at least what could be determined from interviews and newspaper accounts, presenting it as a continuous story. It's a captivating read from the opening page.

Although this book might be considered in the "young folks" genre of the "Lassie" or "Shep" variety, Red Dog was real. Giving him a name would have been out of place. De Bernieres introduces him as "Tally Ho", but that was in his early years when Red Dog's centre of operations was a caravan inhabited by an older couple. Moving into a mining community, Red Dog discovered how to manipulate the miners, all men without companions, and the surrounding communities. They petted, fed and sheltered him in turns. He cadged rides in buses, cars, even on the train running south to Perth, nearly 1500 kilometres distant. As the town grew, Red Dog improved his tastes, hitting hotels and restaurants for culinary leftovers. He took up with one of the workers, but John's death in the bush led Red Dog to further his explorations. He was seeking his lost "master".

The stories of Red Dog's wanderings give de Bernieres an opportunity to apply his descriptive skills to the people and the countryside. He fully captures the Australian inflections, and notes how a mining town was a magnet for itinerants.
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Format: Hardcover
To put my 1 star into some context, let me start by saying I have no hesitation in rating all four of Louis de Bernieres previous books either 4 or 5 stars. His style has in the past proven to be so rich and his characters so compelling that I was greatly looking forward to this book's release. In fact, having previously lived in Australia for many years myself I was particularly delighted to hear that the Pilbara was to be the setting. Regrettably, the results are utterly underwhelming. I have my suspicions that Louis may have been trying to write a children's book that somehow failed to be marketed as such. As a follow up to his previous works this narrative is about as flat as Australia itself. Trying perhaps to evoke the straight forward and rugged lifestyle of many of the Pilbara's real-life residents, Louis has completely dispensed with his fine-tipped word brush and turned to a very direct and simple style. In doing so he seems to have stripped himself of the tool that proved so much at the center of his masterful previous efforts. Sure, the notion of a dog being loved and known in a community that thinly stretches across hundreds of rugged miles is not a bad subject matter. But, this book never reaches any kind of emotional plateau and the annecdotes, at least as conveyed, really aren't interesting enough to move forward under their own steam. The human characters are paper thin throughout and even Red Dog himself remains distant. Finally, the attempt by Louis to use Aussie vernacular is so deliberate and forced that it is, to Aussie ears almost impossibly bad. It leaves you cringing the way actors with bad accents do. Sorry Louis. I'll be there waiting for your next book, but honestly, reading this one was hard bloody yakka.
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Format: Hardcover
Red Dog is the new novella by Louis de Bernieres, one of Britain's best contemporary writers, and represents an exciting new departure in his fiction.
In this beautiful book, Louis de Bernieres celebrates the life of a real Red Dog that lived in Western Australia during the 1970s.
It conveys a real sense of this marvellous dog's character, who was a real people's friend and was widely known and loved in Western Australia, where it got into all sorts of amusing scrapes during its lifetime.
This book, which is a novella rather than a novel due to its shortness, stands out from the rest of Louis de Bernieres work as different: it does not have the serious political undertones of earlier novels such as Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the bestseller that made Louis de Bernieres literary name; it is, however, tragicomic like his first three books, because of its ending; but, it is far more positive - a celebration of a dog's life rather than a political critique.
It therefore represents a break with the past for Louis de Bernieres.
This funny and entertaining dog's tale gets my thumbs up!
(It also has some marvellous illustations by Alan Baker).
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Format: Hardcover
Louis De Bernieres has written some marvelous literature. "Red Dog", is a wonderful true story about a dog that befriended a good portion of Australia, and has been memorialized with a bronze statue as well as other books. Faithful readers of this author will likely be disappointed if they expect another sweeping novel. This short story does not appear to have been planned, as it unfolds with crisp episodes in the remarkable life of this canine. It is extremely unusual in that the book has been illustrated with what appear to be etchings. Illustration has sadly become the domain of primarily very expensive, limited edition, small press books.
This is not a child's book, perhaps for young readers in Junior High, but not for young children. This is a book about adults and how a remarkably charismatic canine changed their lives. This is not a fairly tale, it includes the realities of very trying circumstances and the people who pioneer the way in this extremely difficult environment. When it gets hot in the USA warnings suggest certain groups stay indoors. When it gets hot down under, warnings are issued for gas tanks that are prone to explode when exposed to the sun!
I think it is great that an author who has established himself as an accomplished literary writer would have the courage to step well away from what has worked for him repeatedly. I was reminded of some of John Steinbeck's work that centered around animals, both his own and fictional. If John Steinbeck can make the change I believe it is safe for other accomplished authors to explore unfamiliar genres, and they do not deserve to be punished for doing so. This is especially the case when the results are so worthwhile. I was going to give this 4 stars but I stepped it up to 5. The book was punished and I wanted to even out what is a brief but entering read.
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