Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Literary Dog: "My Dog Does Not Know I Am Human"

Recently I read a review of a collected works of a writer I had never heard of before—Lydia Davis. The reviewer raved about her. Davis is a contemporary writer of what has been called "flash fiction." Her specialty is short-short stories, anecdotes really or brief descriptions, that provide a keyhole into an unknown character's thoughts. Sometimes a piece is a mere sentence or two; yet, like a haiku, it captures the joy or despair or mundane conundrums of a person you might pass in the grocery store or at the Dog Park. I was curious about Davis and found one of her books at the local library. I was pleased to discover that the second piece in her book Varieties of Disturbance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) is about one of our favorite subjects. Here is the piece in its entirety.

Dog and Me by Lydia Davis
An ant can look up at you, too, and even threaten you with its arms. Of course, my dog does not know I am human, he sees me as dog, though I do not leap up at a fence. I am a strong dog. But I do not leave my mouth hanging open when I walk along. Even on a hot day, I do not leave my tongue hanging out. But I bark at him: "No! No!

I am pretty sure that my girls don't think that I am a dog. I am too illogical and moody to be a dog. But I do bark at them. I'll bark at  you, too, next time we meet at Dog Park. See you there.

For reviews of Davis's latest, a collected works, see here and here

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