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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?