This exquisite book has emerged as one of the big hits of 2015, and it’s not difficult to see why. But it is difficult to explain, it’s such a mercurial gem.
It’s been described as a “road-trip” book, and that’s true. The protagonist takes off with his dog after the dog bites a child and he panics. (The dog’s owner, that is – the dog’s quite sanguine about the event.) But this is only a taster. It is so generous in its giving, even in how it reveals the protagonist’s name, that to isolate anything in particular is to spoil it or maybe just to misrepresent it.
For a debut author to wring the entire gamut of the reader’s emotional responses – I both howled in mirth and shed bitter tears – in a short book which is essentially about One Man And His Dog, is a wondrous thing. Sara Baume can play with language beautifully, but so can lots of writers. It is her depiction of intense love which drew me in, the taste of it and the smell and the colour of it. And of how she contrasts that intensity of love with the intensity of wretched loneliness. It’s a passionate and elegant book, richly deserving of its many accolades.