Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Dog Said Bow-Wow

Title: The Dog Said Bow-Wow
Author: Michael Swanwick
Genre: Science Fiction stories
Published: 2007
Rating: 6/10

This book took me a long time to finish. I started reading it in the summer and slowly made my way through about half the stories before I stopped reading for a few months. Recently I picked it up again and finally finished off the rest of the book. I really don't like leaving books unread even if they are going slowly.

Turns out I am just not a huge fan of Swanwick's style of writing. The stories he writes are very clever. They are layered, they often reference mythology or make fun of established fantasy and science fiction tropes. I thought I would enjoy this book a whole lot more than I actually did. The reason I didn't is that I generally failed to connect emotionally with the characters and the story being told. At the end of the story I might think "Ha, that was cleverly played!", but there was no feeling of wonder and satisfaction accomplishing the thought and that failure to really connect with the reading is really the reason for my low rating.

I imagine if Swanwick's writing speaks to you and you like clever twists in your stories, you will enjoy this book a whole lot more than I did. But for myself, I think Swanwick is just not the author for me.

My favorite stories among the bunch was The Skysailor's Tale and A Small Room in Koboldtown. There were also a number of other stories where some parts of them or twists I found really cool, but I didn't like the ending or didn't connect with the story as a whole -- for example in The Bordello in Faerie the main character ends up serving as the "man for hire" in the bordello and becomes addicted to the life, which is a rather neat reversal of roles that one might expect. However, the details of how that addiction is resolved just felt a bit like a let-down at the end of the story.

 I also didn't particularly enjoy the stories about Darger and Surplus though on the face of it both of them are very unique and interesting characters. There are three stories in the book about them: The Dog Said Bow-Wow; The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport; Girls and Boys, Come out to Play. The last is probably the best of the bunch -- particularly because they both get played more than they make out themselves.

All-in-all, an interesting collection of stories that I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped to.


  1. Looks like I recommended a dud; sorry. I shall go do penitence.

    I can see where you're coming from the with lack of emotion comments. It is either something that is not a strong point of his or an aspect of writing he choses not to indulge.

    1. It's balanced out with your other recommendations ;) I've now given History of Love as a gift to some friends who also enjoyed it. Time to go discover more authors that I'll love.

  2. It is funny how you can get to know people through books.

    As far as recommendations, after knowing both your and my thoughts on The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys, The Local News, The History of Love and The Dog Said Bow-Wow; and having regularly read your blog, I feel confident I could pick a book you'd like as far as tone of voice and style. Subject matter is always a bit personal.