Lives of the Monster Dogs
Here is a first novel like no other: a spellbinding tale that both creates its own fully realized world perspective and provides an incisive look at the ways that humans and animals resemble each other. A group of elegant monster dogs in top hats, tails, and bustle skirts become instant celebrities when they come to New York in 2008. Refugees from a town whose residents had been utterly isolated for a hundred years, the dogs retain the nineteenth-century Germanic culture of the humans who created them. They are wealthy and glamorous and seem to lead charmed lives—but they find adjusting to the modern world difficult, and when a young woman, Cleo Pira, befriends them, she discovers that a strange, incurable illness threatens them all with extinction. When the dogs construct their dream home, a fantastic castle on the Lower East Side, and barricade themselves inside, Cleo finds herself one of the few human witnesses to a mad, lavish party that may prove to be the final act in the drama of the lives of the monster dogs.
A postmodern Mary Shelley, taking the parable of Frankenstein’s monster several giant steps farther, might have written this fable of a novel about a tragic race of monster dogs—in this case, genetically and biomechanically engineered dogs (of several major breeds). Created by a German mad scientist in the 19th century, the monster dogs possess human intelligence, speak human language, have prosthetic humanlike hands and walk upright on hind legs. The dogs’ descendants arrive in New York City in the year 2008, still acting like Victorian-era aristocrats. Most important, the monster dogs suffer humanlike frailties and, ultimately, real suffering more serious and affecting than the subject matter might at first glance suggest.