Lives of the Monster Dogs: A Novel

Lives of the Monster Dogs: A Novel


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The twentieth anniversary of a postmodern classic, blending the gothic novel with bleeding-edge science fiction

After a century of cruel experimentation, a haunted race of genetically and biomechanically uplifted canines are created by the followers of a mad nineteenth-century Prussian surgeon. Possessing human intelligence, speaking human language, fitted with prosthetic hands, and walking upright on their hind legs, the monster dogs are intended to be super soldiers. Rebelling against their masters, however, and plundering the isolated village where they were created, the now wealthy dogs make their way to New York, where they befriend the young NYU student Cleo Pira and—acting like Victorian aristocrats—become reluctant celebrities.

Unable to reproduce, doomed to watch their race become extinct, the highly cultured dogs want no more than to live in peace and be accepted by contemporary society. Little do they suspect, however, that the real tragedy of their brief existence is only now beginning.

Told through a variety of documents—diaries, newspaper clippings, articles for Vanity Fair, and even a portion of an opera libretto—Kirsten Bakis’s Lives of the Monster Dogs uses its science-fictional premise to launch a surprisingly emotional exploration of the great themes: love, death, and the limits of compassion. A contemporary classic, this edition features a new introduction by Jeff VanderMeer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374537142
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/09/2017
Series: FSG Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 615,004
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.19(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Kirsten Bakis attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award, the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel, and a Whiting Award. She is a resident faculty member at the Yale Writers’ Conference, teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, and is an editor at Origins Journal. Lives of the Monster Dogs is her first novel.

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Lives of the Monster Dogs 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
raizel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poignant story about self-desribed monster dogs who arrive suddenly in New York City and are welcomed as celebrities. The story is told by Cleo, a young woman who loves the dogs, and Ludwig, who wants to write a history of their creation and lives and who is also different from the other dogs, who are unlike anything else. In fact, there are many ways that the dogs are unique: they are not like other dogs, and they are not human; they grew up in the past---a Prussian culture from about a hundred years ago---and they have no future since they cannot reproduce themselves (what with prosthetics and mechanical voice boxes and who knows what else that is not natural or normal).Thanks to the work of a madman, Augustus Rank, and his followers, the dogs walk upright, speak with the help of a mechanical voice box, have prosthetic hands, and are intelligent. They were created to be the supremely loyal soldiers. Unfortunately they are treated as slaves and, like good soldiers once they have a leader, they rebel, slaughtering all of Rank's followers, who live in a remote village. Eventually the dogs end up very rich and dressed in the height of Prussian elegance in New York.The story is apparently a parable---one of the blurbs says so---but I guess I'm not literary enough to understand what that means. Rank is portrayed as creepy; but the dogs must see him as a god---certainly a Creator. Even though Rank is evil and insane, the results of his horrible experiments and plans want to be decent. The sadness in the story comes from the way the dogs were created, their unfair treatment, the terrible reaction to it, the fact that even though New Yorkers takes them to their hearts, we know that it's only because they are the newest craze, the fact that, as much as they try to behave like humans, they never can be, and, as much as they doggedly try to deny their "dogness", they cannot help reverting to it. Surprisingly, the ending is not as totally bleak as I had expected it to be.
PhaedraB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An elegant and beautiful novel, a dream-like memoir of the (future) time when the Monster Dogs lived in New York, told by an intimate human friend.The narrator Cleo's relationship with the genetically altered, intelligent, speaking dogs explores what we mean by friendship, by love, by identification with the Other, by sanity itself. How far can we change who we are and still be who we are? Can we ever change enough to leave who we are behind?
bibliojim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to have beautiful prose that evoked a magical victorian sort of mood. It is a philosophical work that makes me think about what it means to be thought to be "different", yet be entirely human. The plot, however, is slow. I highly recommend it for people who revel in "literary" science fiction and fantasy, but not for people who are looking for a rousing action tale. I would love to read more by this author. To date, however, she has not published any additional work, though she was rumored to be at work on something.
extrajoker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
first line: "I remember the night the helicopter landed, because I was walking on the West Side, by the river, not far south of the heliport, and my heart was breaking."I really loved this, but...the book does fall flat at the end, so much so that I wondered whether Bakis intended a sequel. (If she did, however, it has yet to appear; it seems that this is her only novel.) Overall, I found the story (about a genetically-/surgically-created race of intelligent dogs with artificial hands and voice boxes) innovative and surprisingly touching, the characters sympathetic, and the writing smooth and engaging. And kudos to Bakis for including a dog-opera libretto and the wonderfully punny construction of "Neuhundstein."
bhalpin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inventive, big-hearted book that completely falls apart at the end. Still an entertaining read, though
sheherazahde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Victorian in feel, a strange tale of dogs that speak and live like humans, but can not bare to do so.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Weird, depressing, and rather pointless. The dogs are described, but they react too oddly for me to feel I knew them - and the girl started to behave the same way. So why _was_ she so obsessed with her possessions, and yet abandoned them to stay in the fortress? And there was no resolution, no _point_ to the story. This would be a good SF story for people who enjoy mainstream novels (since my opinion of them is that most of them are depressing and pointless!) Hmmm...and it's due to start in 10 months...
davidabrams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to get my paws on this book. When "Lives of the Monster Dogs" by Kirsten Bakis first appeared, the literary world buzzed about this story of scientifically-altered canines living like humans in the first half of the 21st century."A bizarre, haunting, fiercely original first novel!" they barked. "A postmodern Mary Shelley, taking the parable of Frankenstein's monster several giant steps farther!" they howled.Created by a German mad scientist in the 19th century, the monster dogs are as intelligent as humans, speak our language (though the long muzzles give them trouble), have prosthetic hands and walk upright on hind legs. Because they're from another era, they wear the latest in Victorian fashions, complete with walking sticks and top hats.They've been a well-kept secret up in the woods of Canada for more than a century. But, through a series of human failures, they're unleashed on the rest of the world. The dogs' descendants arrive in New York City in the year 2008, still acting like Victorian-era aristocrats and hoping to find their place in the world. It's no surprise they quickly become celebrities. After all, every dog has his day.The narrator, Cleo Pira (the novel's most uninteresting character), is a struggling NYU student chosen as the dogs' human scribe by Klaue ("Claw"), their paranoid, power-drunk leader (the novel's most interesting character). She also befriends Ludwig, the dogs' historian, and Lydia, a gentle Samoyed. All is not perfect in the kennel, however. Soon, it's discovered there's a flaw in the design of the dogs, causing them to revert back to their original state--things like flea-scratching and chewing the legs of tables signal the eventual decline of their western civilization.I really wanted to like this novel. I was intrigued by the idea of a race of dogs who finally had the chance to bite the hand that fed them all these years. How often have you looked at your pooch and thought, "I wonder what Fido thinks about eating Kibbles 'n Bits every day?" If he was Ludwig, he'd probably bite your ankle. There's a quirky originality in the turned-tables concept of this novel. All it needs is Charlton Heston and it would make great entertainment: "Planet of the Poodles."Then there's the jacket cover--a formal portrait of a Malamute in a smoking jacket. The darned mutt looked so intelligent, like he had a lot to say to me.Unfortunately, once I got into the story, I found that Bakis really didn't have much of a message. Or, if she did, the point was lost in all the growling and gnashing of teeth.I did like the pseudo fairy tale nature of "Monster Dogs," but Bakis dulls the book with pages of unimaginative language and clumsy handling of the plot. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. Sure, they're dogs, but I wanted to feel their pain.Perhaps it's unfair to compare "Monster Dogs" with "Planet of the Apes," but somehow I was able to make a quick and deep connection with the chimpanzee Cornelius in those movies. There was a heart behind the ape; there's not much under the fur of Bakis' hounds.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an eerie, haunting novel. Bakis is able to create creatures who are neither fully human nor fully animal, and really do feel like intelligent dogs. I really loved this, although I'm not entirely certain I understood the more mystical elements very well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love it!! Can you imagine if these dogs came to YOUR town? This is a fascinating novel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The most wonderful book i've read! Parts of it are grusome, but it's written very elegantly.