Review: Teaching the Dog to Read

Posted: July 20, 2015 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Jonathan Carroll, Fantasy, Short Fiction

I’m not sure what I expected going into this novella. I mean…look at the cover. It’s weird, kinda creepy, and automatically makes me want to read the story. Subterranean Press was kind enough to send over a copy of the exceptionally strange novella by Jonathan Carroll, TEACHING THE DOG TO READ. It didn’t disappoint.

I don’t even know where to start, or how to explain Carroll’s work. I’m going to take the easy road and give you the description from Sub Press:

“The story opens when mid-level office drone Tony Areal receives an extravagant gift: the Lichtenberg wristwatch he has always coveted. Shortly afterward, he receives an even grander gift: the luxurious—and expensive—Porsche Cayman that has always been the car of his dreams. Accompanying the car is the mysterious Alice, who knows more about Tony’s dreams and desires than Tony himself. This encounter opens the door to a rich and unexpected universe: the world behind the world.”

Great! Does that clear everything up? Oh. No. It totally doesn’t. And that is why I loved this novella so much. No preconceived notions. No spoilers in the synopsis. Heck, I didn’t even know what genre I was going to be reading. And all of that is OK.

TEACHING THE DOG TO READ is one of the few pieces of fiction to really draw me in and make me feel like I was living the journey with the main character.

When TEACHING THE DOG TO READ came in the mail, I didn’t look it up online. Honestly, I don’t even remember if I read the back of the review copy. I sat down, opened the book, and began reading. Right away I was introduced to Tony Areal, and the situations described in the synopsis above. The novella isn’t a quick read for its length, but I was completely absorbed while I turned the pages.

Love, mystery, and the edges of magic realism. All of those things I encountered while reading. The story was funny, sad, and more than a little weird. But what kept me in the story was the act of discovery. I truly had no idea where the story was going, but neither did the main character. That common feeling came across so strong in the story and anchored me to the PoV. This detail is 1000% essential to the impact of the story, because it drives the wow factor on the ending twist.

Gah. I want to say more so bad. I recognize this story won’t be for everyone, but man… I loved it.

TEACHING THE DOG TO READ is about the characters, and about the journey of discovery. It’s one of the few pieces of fiction to really draw me in and make me feel like I was living the journey with the main character. Fully enjoying a story is fantastic. Feeling like you are part of the story–a witness to it–is special. Jonathan Carroll’s TEACHING THE DOG TO READ, to me, was special.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Uh. I don't really remember a ton. Was too busy enjoying the story.
  • Violence: Nope
  • Sex: Nothing detailed

It’s a bit expensive, but the quality of the physical book (it’s Sub Press–the best in the business), and the uniqueness of the story make it worth it.

Support Subterranean Press directly here: TEACHING THE DOG TO READ

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