Sunday, June 21, 2015

Book Review: George the Dog, John the Artist (staffy, London, homeless)

George the Dog, John the Artist: A Rescue Story, by John Dolan (Overlook Press, 2015, 303 pages, $25.95)

The plot: Man rescues dog - dog saves man. The End.

But it’s what’s in the middle that counts – drawings of George-the-dog that you may just want to frame.

Love the title! But, . . .

Of course, being a dog-book-reviewer, I love that the dog comes first (in the title). Unfortunately, the dog did not write the book. John-the-artist wrote the book and therefore most of the book is about him and other humans. (But, Dog does save the day)! I would have liked to get to know George more, however. “George, we hardly knew ya’!”

George may just be the most unusual book. . . .

What’s it all about?

Location: London, the neighborhood of street artists

Plot: When a convicted teen is released from prison, his family will not take him back: he spends the next 20 years in and out of trouble – when out, he is homeless. Without a high school diploma, he falls back on his childhood hobby, drawing, as he sits on the streets with his “found dog” George begging nearby.

Style: The prose so far is splotchy, replete with expletives and “British Englishisms” that Americans may not understand but can usually make a pretty guess at. However, when success comes to John and George, the prose becomes more educated, more professional, and less earthy. I wonder if the author was aware of this style change.

Ending: Can John-the-artist turn his life around, get off heroin and off the streets? Does he reconcile with his extended family sibs (a soap opera book in itself!)? George-the-dog tries hard to help just by being a dog who needs to be walked, even early in the morning, and to be fed regularly which necessitates an income – shades of Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac (Bruce Goldstein).

(Secret: I bought the book for the delightful drawings of George-the-dog, a Staffordshire terrier, one of the cutest dogs out there!)

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