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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Worrall, Simon: The Poet and the Murderer | Main | Finney, Jack: About Time »

Parkhurst, Carolyn: The Dogs of Babel

  

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Little, Brown 2003, 272 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

Paul Iverson came home from work one autumn afternoon to find that his wife Lexy was dead, having fallen from an apple tree in their backyard. Forensic evidence suggested that the fall was accidental, but certain incongruities in Lexy's behavior--she had rearranged the books in one of their bookcases, for example--suggested to her husband that "the day of Lexy's death had not been a usual day."

Iverson's interest in canine linguistics leads him to become involved--briefly, and somewhat against his will--with a group of extremists who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of canine speech.The Dogs of Babel tells the bittersweet story of Paul's attempt to recover from and understand Lexy's death. Was it a suicide? There was only one witness to his wife's fall, the couple's Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lorelai, and Iverson, a trained linguist, undertakes to teach the dog to talk. His interactions with Lorelai are sometimes comic, sometimes heart-rending (as when he tells her to "Go get Lexy"--a command she had never heeded previously--and she runs off, manically sniffing throughout the house for evidence of her dead mistress). The story, narrated by Iverson and written in pleasingly short chapters, jumps gracefully from these training sessions to Paul's attempts to unscramble the riddle of the reordered bookshelf to his memories of his wife--their charming courtship and the unsettling bursts of rage to which Lexy was subject. In the end, Paul's various memories and his detective work coalesce to form a comprehensible narrative of their relationship and of Lexy's last moments.

Left at that, Parkhurst's novel would have been highly successful, but the author has also included in her book a section that does not quite fit with the rest. Iverson's interest in canine linguistics leads him to become involved--briefly, and somewhat against his will--with a group of extremists who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of canine speech. This section of the book is horrifying in its details of surgically altered dogs, and one is terrified at the prospect of what may happen to Lorelai. But these shocking chapters are also unrealistic (or so one dearly hopes), and thus out of keeping with the rest of the narrative. They are also not necessary to the story, which could stand on its own as an admittedly less dramatic but no less moving tale of love and death and dogs.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.