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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Thursday, 3 March 2016

On being a dog

February 1916, Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken

You may have noticed that I have sometimes written (in my short stories) about dogs - I mean real dogs, not the quadruped. All my adult life I have had a secret ambition to be one. A particular attribute of doggish men is the ability to lean up against the bar in a public house or an hotel, in just the right negligent posture, and say the right things to the barmaid. I have often, at a distance, seen other men do this feat apparently with complete success. Recently whilst I was in Glasgow on a mission I leaned up against the bar in a leading hotel there, and began. I had the moral support of a friend, also aspiring to doggishness. Some pleasantry was addressed to the barmaid. I can remember only her reply which was: "You can't tell me the tale. This is my second time on earth." We were beaten off with great loss, and the incident has closed my career as a bar frequenter.

Image result for Auster illusionsI have made several attempts to read the novels of Paul Auster, most recently yesterday when I commenced his "The Book of Illusions". It started well enough, an engaging narrative with an element of mystery and an interesting historical context - that was yesterday and I went to bed with some pleasure of anticipation to continue the book today. What a disappointment! The book quickly degenerated into a series of increasingly detailed and implausible descriptions of the narrator's experiences in an obscure film-maker's desert hideaway. Perhaps the title should have alerted me not to expect anything I could make sense of. I have yet to finish an Auster book and yet he has such a high reputation. Perhaps he is simply too subtle for me? This will be my last attempt to unravel his particular mystery.

I doubt if Auster is a dog, or if he is he will be some sort of pedigree rare breed. As for myself, on reflection, I am inclined to think that doggishness is over-rated. Somebody once asked me what animal I would like to 'return' as should I be reincarnated - I think a cat would suit me better.

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