Monday, April 23, 2012

There is No Dog

Who doesn't love the idea of God just wandering around every day among us? . Meg Rosoff's book There is No Dog is designated a YA novel and the God portrayed here is a malodorous, lazy late adolescent named Bob who won control of this world through his mother's poker game. His assistant--the also-ran for control of this earth--admits Bob has had flashes of brilliance in some of his creations. Mr B marvels that the same God who leaves his dirty clothes in a moldering heap by the side of the bed could have created golden eagles and elephants and butterflies. Such moments of transcendent inspiration! Other creatures fill him with admiration as well--heavy loping striped tigers and graceful long-necked swans, creaking as they fly,. Ludicrous pincushion porcupines. The problem, as Mr B sees it--somewhat resentful that he wasn't considered good enough for the role of God all by himself--is that Bob loses interest easily. He's distracted, gets bored, can't be bothered, or he falls in lust with some human girl and, incidentally, unleashes cataclysmic weather events.

This particular  predicament is how the book opens. Bob has become infatuated by Lucy, a local 21 year old intern at the zoo. He realizes, dimly, that he can't appear as a burning bush, or in full angelic attire, but he's flummoxed how to proceed. Mr B is being less helpful than ever, partly because he's planning his escape to another world as soon as he can. After all, he's spent eons cleaning up after Bob and he's tired of it. This world is a mess, getting messier as Bob chases Lucy--the town is practically underwater already.  Bob's mother is even less help as she's too busy getting drunk and playing poker against Emoto Hed, a god whose presence becomes  a devastating absence, a malignant Hed-shaped void sucking all light and heat into its core. No, Bob is on his own. He even loses his one-of-a-kind pet, an Eck, an odd penguiny sort of creature with the long elegant nose of an anteater, beady eyes, and soft gray fur.

Will Bob have his way with Lucy? Will Eck be eaten by Emoto Hed, as threatened? Will the world fall apart under the strain of a hormonal God, or will Mr B pull his dignity together and stick around to solve once and for all the Bob problem. Rosoff certainly has fun with her premise and it works, mostly. There are, indeed, flashes of brilliance, but it's a little hard to have to come face-to-face with a fairly unlikeable God, and I was left not too invested in anyone.

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