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The Sunday Salon: Café Comfort

The Sunday Salon.com
dogbabelI woke up to the warm clammy air that lingered on overnight. Sixty-five degrees at five-thirty in the morning. This is very unusual for San Francisco at this time for the year. The rain that poured down in sheets two weeks ago, the wetness that was tell-tale of winter’s onset, is no more. By seven-thirty, ensconced at my favorite corner table at the cafe, rays of sun tingled the back of my neck with an unusual fierceness—this was going to be a warm day. I kept my gaze focused on my new book, The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. As gurgle and sizzle of the expresso machine greeted the early birds, the cafe came to life. I lingered over my (first cup of) coffee for an hour, watching the sun shift across the cafe, illuminating each panel of window.

After the heavy reading about self-affirmation and religion that Jane Eyre has enlightened me, I have to read something lighter to ease up my mind. Although The Dogs of Babel does not fully qualify for a beach read, it’s a well-written story about recovering the loss of a spouse. When Linguist Paul Iverson found his wife dead in the backyard, fallen from the apple tree, he began a quest to solve the mystery of Lexy’s death with the help of the only witness: their dog, Lorelei, a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Tender and down-to-earth, this novel reminds me of Enzo, the philosophical dog from The Art of Racing in the Rain except Lorelei doesn’t talk. Paul wishes. He contrives to coax words out of the canine in order to shed light on what really happened. The book also touches on the subject of dog mutilation that is reminiscent of Heart of a Dog but the extent with which this is explored is less daring and is more true-to-life. I can’t help thinking what my dog might tell me. He watches me, follows me and locks into my daily routine. What is he thinking? Does he feel comfortable at home? Does he like the park I take him to? Would dogs still be man’s best friend if they speak the common tongue?

“There is a kind of grieving that dogs do, a patient waiting for homecoming, a sniffing for a scent that is no longer there. Since Lexy died, I have often seen Lorelei sitting at the top of the basement stairs, listening for noises from the workshop below. This morning, I find her in the bedroom, sleeping stretched out on one of Lexy’s sweaters.” [63]

What are you reading this weekend?

16 Responses

  1. I was reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker this weekend. I have The Dogs of Babel on my TBR pile though.

  2. This sounds very good. I know I have this book somewhere in my stacks… This weekend I’ve been busy with a few books but mainly The Maltese Falcon as I needed to finish it up for a book group meeting.

  3. Hey Matt,
    A little digression here–I was looking at your Last.fm list and was happy to see all the Abba songs there! On your last.fm page, you have listed some of my faves too. Woot!

  4. […] The Sunday Salon: Café Comfort […]

  5. My friends in SF I am sure were thrilled with the warm weather. We must have had your cold weather here in Texas. I spent it reading James Joyce’s Dubliners under the covers. 🙂

  6. I have this book on my TBR shelf. I’ll have to move it closer to the top!

  7. That book sounds quite beautiful for one, I confess, I’d have otherwise written off.

    Right now I’m still gloriously digging my way through Achy Obejas’ Days of Awe.

  8. That book sounds quite beautiful for one, I confess, I’d have otherwise written off.

    Right now I’m still gloriously digging my way through Achy Obejas’ Days of Awe.

  9. gautami:
    It certainly appeals to book lover and dog lover! 🙂

  10. Callista:
    I hope you enjoy The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. It takes a bit to get into the story, but once you’re “snapped in” it’s very engrossing. 🙂

  11. Iliana:
    Yeah it seems to me this book is very popular among book bloggers. I didn’t realize it was Carolyn Parkhurst’s debut in 2003. One of the critics compared the work to Lovely Bones, which I didn’t quite like. But Dogs of Babel lives up to its hype.

  12. chartroose:
    Your digression is very welcoming! I’ve had ABBA CDs but it wasn’t until the movie Mama Mia did I become really crazy about the songs! 🙂

  13. mari:
    I have no complaint of the warm weather here. This year has been the warmest for us. The usual fog and misty weather that is notorious of SF summer is replaced by a clammy warm days. I’m just loving it because it means more time to sit and read outside with my dog. 🙂

  14. Sarah:
    It’s a curl-up-on-the-couch type of book. You’ll enjoy it. 🙂

  15. bookchronicle:
    I would have passed this one had I not read the review on “Reading Matters” blog. 🙂

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