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The Golden Slipper and Other Problems for Violet Strange
Anna Katharine Green
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott
Skippy Dies
Paul Murray
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
Florence Williams
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson
The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
How To Teach English
Jeremy Harmer
The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein The one star is for the initially intriguing conceit that this is a story narrated by a dog, peppered with philosophy gleaned from professional race car driving. With such a loveable, thoughtful narrator, covering hard-hitting topics like death, cancer, and ugly court cases, I was crossing my fingers that the author could handle this skillfully and somehow come up with a winner. Like "Room", only instead of a child, we have a dog.

But as I read on, I started to dislike the voice of the author, who I visualized as an unskilled ventriloquist trying to project his hackneyed Hallmark lines into the mouth of a flimsy hand puppet. I felt talked down to, and I can almost detect the dramatic pauses after particularly philosophical (melodramatic) lines, as if allowing us time to appreciate how wise and human this dog is. What a waste of a great idea. Instead of a character that is insightful but childlike (as I imagine a dog would be), we end up with someone who sounds like a middle-aged man with occasional delusions that he is a dog. Meanwhile, the rest of the characters are flat, and seem like mere props in this moralizing story.

In short: Nice try, but it didn't fly.