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Phenomenal Read

  • Aug 10, 2010
I was so very doubtful when I first picked up this book. A man is trying to teach his dog to speak because his dog is the only witness to his wife's death? Seriously? I did not have high hopes, but I had just finished Carolyn Parkhurst's latest novel, The Nobodies Album, and loved it. Guess what, people? I loved The Dogs of Babel even more.

This book is thought-provoking, evocative, and hard to put down. As the lead character searches for the truth about his wife's death (accident or suicide), he basically disappears from society and becomes obsessed with making his beloved pet talk so he will finally have answers. The novel takes you back through his relationship with his deceased wife, giving you glimpses into their relationship and into her state of mind. As he travels down memory lane, he comes to some wise realizations about himself, and about the woman that he loved. The dog is, of course, right along with him, sharing in the journey.

Not your average plotline, for certain, but the sweetness of this novel brought me to tears. I won't spoil the ending for you so go check it out yourself. Good stuff.

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review by . June 11, 2003
5 stars  "The Dogs of Babel" is about Paul Iverson, a linguist at a local university who meets and quickly marries a young artist named Lexy Ransome. She is everything to him- she brings light and color to his dull, academic life. The two have a seemingly happy and passionate marriage until one day Lexy mysteriously falls from a tree and is mortally injured. The only witness to the incident is the couple's dog, Lorelai and Paul, in his grief and desperation, decides he is going to make …
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Tanya Turner ()
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The quirky premise of Carolyn Parkhurst's debut novel,The Dogs of Babel, is original enough: after his wife Lexy dies after falling from a tree, linguistics professor Paul Iverson becomes obsessed with teaching their dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Lorelei (the sole witness to the tragedy), to speak so he can find out the truth about Lexy's death--was it accidental or did Lexy commit suicide?

In short, accelerating chapters Parkhurst alternates between Paul's strange and passionate efforts to get Lorelei to communicate and his heartfelt memories of his whirlwind relationship with Lexy. The first 100 pages or so bring to mind another noteworthy debut, Alice Sebold's brilliant exploration of grief, The Lovely Bones. Unfortunately, the second half of The Dogs of Babel takes too many odd twists and turns--everything from a Ms. Cleo-like TV psychic to an underground sect of abusive canine linguists--to ever allow the reader to feel any real sympathy for the main characters. Parkhurst's Paul Iverson can certainly be appealing at times, and his heartbreak is often quite palpable ("...for every dark moment we shared between us, there was a moment of such brightness I almost could not bear to look at it head-on."). But his mask-maker wife Lexy--Paul's driving inspiration--is a character whose spur-of-the-moment outbursts, spontaneous fits of anger, and supposedly charming sense of whimsy (on their first date, they drive from Virginia to Disney World, eating only appetizers and side ...

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ISBN-10: 0316168688
ISBN-13: 978-0316168687
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Publisher: Little, Brown

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"Beautiful and tragic"
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