[DWJ] Dogsbody

Philip Belben philipbelben at alice.de
Sat May 19 15:47:50 EDT 2012

Hello Joe, thanks for starting this discussion.

> I've just finished the delicious weirdness that is Dogsbody. I think I
> appreciated it properly for the first time this reading (it was always one
> of her less successful stories for me, probably because I'm not
> particularly keen on dogs). I don't know of any other book remotely like
> it, amongst DWJ's work or anyone else's.

Wow.  I too am not much of a dog person - I prefer cats, but I don't 
deliberately share my house with non-humans - but Dogsbody has a special 
place for me because it was the first DWJ I read.

For me, the opening scene really drew me in: the use of phrases like 
"roof trees" with their "blue fruit", nowhere else explained; the notion 
of luminaries; and all the back story that we're not given (the book 
starts with Sirius being on trial for crimes he didn't commit, and the 
entire story takes place within the context of his sentence!)

> Has anyone else read it recently? Is there a discussion taking place in
> some parallel universe?

I think it merely got pushed aside by the memorial service.

What struck me, reading the books in order - and I touched on this in my 
comments on Cart and Cwidder - was Kathleen's description of grief, when 
near the end she tells Miss Smith about smashing the pots, but admits 
that it was really grief for her father rather than anger at Duffie, and 
how similar this is to Moril's realisation that he moved mountains and 
crushed the invading army out of grief over Olob.  "What a muddle being 
sad is", as I think Kathleen puts it.

I'm also a little confused as to the nature of the Luminaries 
themselves.  When Sirius and Sol return to guide Kathleen to Patchie's 
pups, she is unable even to perceive them.  This suggests that they are 
immaterial beings, with no bodies as we understand them (unless their 
spheres are their bodies).  On the other hand, Mrs Canning and her new 
partner move around freely pretending to be humans, interacting with 
Eleanor Partridge, breaking into the Duffields', and so on.  I don't 
think the implication is that they are immaterial beings who have 
co-opted human bodies (which incidentally have far more of the 
Luminaries' power than Sirius had as a dog).  They seem to be in their 
natural form, "containing their heat", but still "lit up round the 
edges".  So what is going on here?

So, thanks again to Joe for getting the Dogsbody discussion going.  This 
month we were to discuss Power of Three, but that may now spill over 
into June.  I think it's Charmed Life next, anyway.


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