Fifteen Dogs - by Andre Alexis

Joe's GoodReads Rating

“Outside the tavern, the gods walked west along King Street.
- I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
- I wonder if they’d be as unhappy as humans, Apollo answered.
- Some humans are unhappy; others aren’t. Their intelligence is a difficult gift.”

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis is a fictional novel that uses a modernized mixture of Greek mythology and Canadian society to spin a sort of allegory exploring the nature of human consciousness. The novel follows the lives of fifteen dogs who have been granted human consciousness and language for one year by the gods Hermes and Apollo on a drunken wager. The wager is found to be an ambiguous one: will the dogs be as unhappy as humans are?

I enjoyed this book for the most part. I gave it four stars because I generally save the fifth star for books that inspire me to conduct serious personal introspection. I don’t know that this book did that, though it was very interesting. I liked the way that each dog was markedly different from the others and how their personalities became expressed in a new dog-human hybrid culture. However, I did get a bit bored part-way through. On one hand, the overall story could have been boiled down into a short story, but, on the other hand, it could have been more interesting if it explored each dog’s journey more in depth. It focused on a couple of the dogs with a sort of disjointed and sometimes fading plot.

Fifteen Dogs won the 2017 Canada Reads contest on CBC. I couldn’t help but notice it as I was following the 2018 contest. When I saw it in Munro’s Books in Victoria, BC, it just made sense to get it.

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Joe Enns

Joe Enns Art is a website showing the oil paintings of Joe Enns, an Oil Painter and Fisheries Biologist located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. This website is dedicated to showing the beauty of the natural world, developing oil painting skills, as well as, fisheries and stream conservation and restoration.