The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser

A review by Rob Kennedy.


The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser

Michelle de Kretser writes and sounds like a poet. The short pithy perfectly constructed lines in The Lost Dog, have great appeal. The opening two lines completely set the story up; not many books have ever achieved this. The book is worth buying for those two lines alone.

It’s good to see a modern book carrying modern connections in it, such as the references to the usage of modern technology. Many contemporary books do not contain references to the things we use every day, and that makes them seem out of touch and unreal. The Lost Dog blends this into the contemporary, and into a drifting story that weaves through the life of a stubborn and sensitive man, the lead character, Tom Loxley.

There’s a sincere portrayal of a man and his union with a dog. The way an animal can get and remain under the skin of ever the hardest of men, not that Loxley is hard man. The book shows just how strong and permanent that union can be.

In many moments throughout the book, the image of that dog come back to Loxley, and these are some of the most poignant parts of the book. I feel it’s clear that de Kretser has a close relationship with animals, to be able to render them as she has.

Normally, I’m not a lover of description, but when de Kretser does it, I get something out of it. The poetic imagery she is able to assign to even the smallest and most insignificant of objects, places and characters, actually adds fuel to the story, and it didn’t turn me away as description does in so many other books.

At times, I did feel lost though. I haven’t figured out if it was due to the depth of the story, or the sophisticated interlacing of ideas and memories; the lead does find himself in memory a lot. This is something I’ve seen in the writing of other authors, like Patrick White, who I love.

While there are many aspects to this books, such as the complexities of inner-city life, relationships, art and artists, a very Melbourne duo. Then, there’s the poetry quoted, and a keen observation for so many things. But, I found the connections between Loxley and the lost dog, the most touching in a book that will stay with me, for its opening lines alone.

I’ll be getting de Kretser’s latest book, Questions of Travel. Which will come in convenient, because according to a member of my club, “It’s a book, we will have to do?”

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