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Funeral for a Dog Review

My review of Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger has been published at The National.

My short take: this is a very strong first novel, albeit with a few first novel problems. But it’s one of those books good enough and innovative enough to make you want to engage all the way–i.e. to the point that you care about the flaws. (With the majority of books one never gets to the point of caring about the flaws, because why waste time with dull things?)

Also, much praise to translator Ross Benjamin. The book is formally ambitious and grammatically inconsistent. I imagine it must have been tough to translate. There are also two very particular, very distinct narrative voices in this book, and they read very well.

And now a quote from the review:

There are two well-worn paths to literary innovation: tell a story that is unlike any other, or tell a very common story, but do it in a way that has never been tried before. Funeral for a Dog, the debut novel by the German author Thomas Pletzinger, does a little of both. Its aspirations to tell a new story are announced in its epigraph, a quote from Max Frisch admonishing those who claim that all possible love stories have already been told. Likewise, the book’s opening pages – a series of fragmentary postcards written just after the plot of the novel ends – immediately declare Pletzinger’s intentions to tell this story in an innovative way.

Much of the fun of Funeral for a Dog is watching Pletzinger attempt to rise to these two challenges, which he does with some success . . .


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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