Teaching the Dog to Read
by Jonathan Carroll
Cover Artist: Ryder Carroll
Review by Wes Breazeale
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596067257
Date: 31 July 2015 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Jonathan Carroll's writing is tricky to describe, and his books are hard to categorize. Carroll's works tend to blur the line between reality and fantasy, bringing a surrealism into stories that otherwise take place in our mundane world.
Teaching the Dog to Read is no exception. The story focuses on Tony Areal, an office drone of some sort who is characterized as being nothing short of unnoticeable. But things change for Tony one day when he receives a package containing his dream watch, a hand-crafted $9,000 masterpiece. The following day he receives the keys to his dream car, parked in the office lot and driven by a stunningly attractive stranger named Alice. Suffice it to say, after these two events Tony is certainly more noticeable, and draws the attention of his office's most attractive, and most unattainable, employee, Lena Schabort.
What follows has overtones of a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode. To say much more will ruin the twists and turns of the story. But saying that much also gives you an idea of what to expect. Tony learns more about what brought this all together, and Lena expresses an interest in Tony that he's not sure how to reciprocate. Though the story attempts to delve deeper into the question of what constitutes something that is ideal or “dream worthy” the unusual context of the story can be a bit of a distraction, including the ultimate resolution.
The novella is available in two formats -- a hard-bound, autographed edition limited to 1000 copies available for $40 and an e-book version currently available for $3.99. For collectors or Carroll fanatics, the bound version is sure to be nicely done by Subterranean Press. But for those just curious about the story, $3.99 is probably the right price.