Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fiction: The Way of the Dog by Sam Savage

From the anonymous shadow of the living room window in his crumbling mansion, an old man watches the world. Once an uncelebrated painted and a collector of art, Harold Nivenson seems to witness the changing of the world while he himself feels oddly unchanged, impacted only by his past.

The Way of the Dog (Coffee House Press) is Sam Savage’s fourth novel, after Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, Cry of the Sloth and Glass. Like those books, The Way of the Dog is poetic in nature, both for its lovely prose, but also for the stance: searching looks at the things closest to us.

In this novel, Savage guides us through the experience of the artist looking back and coming to terms with choices that were difficult and not always “correct” yet finding a certain peace, nonetheless. Here Harold imagines a lifetime’s accumulation of index cards as a reflection of his life:
Imagine an expanse of ruins. A vast field on which are scattered thousands of bits and pieces of wood, glass, and masonry. As if a large building had been demolished theorem broken into pieces so small and shattered they cannot be identified as window, door, plank, as if the building had disintegrated, though in fact they are not the remains of any building that has ever stood in the field.
Most of Harold-by-way-of-Savage’s observations are more subtle, though no less beautiful and we accompany him as he works through a lifetime’s worth of bitterness in order to make peace with himself and his world. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.



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