The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal


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The look in the eyes of a dog is love-- Book Review of Haint by Joy Ward
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Haint: A Tale of Extraterrestrial Intervention and Love Across Time and Space (Paperback)

Joy Ward's experience with dogs, especially Weimaraners, permeates this novel. She clearly loves the breed, as the Foreword by the photographer, William Wegman, who's made photographing Weimaraners an art form all by itself, illustrates.

But this book isn't about dogs. It isn't even about the age-old conundrum common to all dog owners when they consider just who owns who. And if you don't get that, you haven't been owned by a dog.

This book is about the end of the world, and what happens after.

Haint and the other Weimaraners, and all the other Breeds as well, all know what is happening as a result of the Warming and the end of human civilization. Humans huddled with their Breed dogs and tried to ignore what the dogs knew. This novel is the story of the dogs and the humans coming to terms with the end of the world.

There could have been lots of things wrong with this novel. There could have been polemics about climate, about greed and pollution, but Ward manages to walk the tightrope between the didactic novel and a real story with real characters. Every time I dissect the writing and plotting of this novel, I see how tightly written it is, and how spare. It owes a lot to Hemingway's "less is more" writing style, as it describes the journey Amanda takes to discover why the water level is dropping at home. It is a journey of discovery in the finest traditions of the quest story. Not only does Amanda discover the answers at the end of her quest, so does Haint, and so does his Border Collie friend, Master.

The Breeds have been companions, guides and friends of humans for all of human history. Consider the possibility that they are, and have been, more.

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