Well, this is an odd little book, and yet, even though I don't think I fully understood it, I really liked it. That may be in part due to my reading it in the course of a single day, after having been up since 3 a.m. when my elderly, neurotic border collie commenced having a two-hour panic attack and wouldn't let me go back to sleep. I was disgruntled, even after she settled down, and started in on this book.
What's it about? I dunno. It's 99 short stories, none longer than 2-3 pages, some as short as a paragraph or even just one sentence. Some are wistful, some are sad, some are silly, some are reverent, some are like a predictable joke. They speak, to put it in grandiose terms, to the human condition; sometimes God shows up, sometimes S/He never appears. The pages aren't numbered, but the stories are; the story titles appear at the end, rather than at the beginning. I'm making it sound terribly pretentious, and yet it isn't. The stories are simple, straightforward, sometimes head-scratchers.
Here's an example:
A newborn baby abandoned in the Kenyan capital was saved by a stray dog who apparently carried her across a busy road and through a barbed wire fence to a shed, where the infant was discovered nestled with a litter of puppies, witnesses said.
The short-haired dog with light brown eyes has no name, residents said.
That's the entire story, including title. I see the dog is referred to as "who," not "that." Dogs appear a lot, and wolves show up too; it's no doubt significant that the cover of the book has a stormy seascape with a boat with four--dogs? Wolves?--in it, all with pink tongues hanging out. The end pages have repeated pictures of the same animals. Is this a play on the God/Dog anagram?
Or this one:
"You don't get older during the time you spend in church," he told us.
He pushed a shopping cart with a few rags and a bottle of Windex in it.
We gave him a dollar.
A GOOD REASON
So. Did I fully understand it? No. Did I enjoy it? Very much. I want to read it again, puzzle it out more, revisit for common themes or character types that show up across stories. Altogether a fine read for a sleep-deprived day. (And no, it did not put me to sleep."