A stylish but slight gimmick-novel, narrated by just who the title says: a dog named Hooker, belonging to the Bard. Hooker...

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SHAKESPEARE'S DOG

A stylish but slight gimmick-novel, narrated by just who the title says: a dog named Hooker, belonging to the Bard. Hooker is a spiritual dog, a dog who believes in soul--much more so, in fact, than his master, whom Hooker frankly disapproves of. (All that kowtowing to destiny's determinism!) Saddled with twins and another daughter, with the nagging and harloty Anne Hathaway as wife, the 21-year-old Will hates Stratford-on-Avon (""a pimple"") and yearns for the capital. He confides in his pooch: "" 'When Hathaway calls me wart, calls me warthog, calls me unweeting slops, the tough oak has my mark right. I'm as tied up here as a sabbath bonnet. I'm as pinched in my universe as her flesh is girdled. They'd have a ring in my pig's nose, my brain is as much shut up as pigeons in a pigeon house. But I'll not have it, Hooker. I'll run. I'll weigh my legs upon the London road. Someday,' he muttered."" About his own consort, a bitch named Mart, Hooker is a little less ambivalent, a little less eloquent: ""She was aloof, a whiner, a foamer. She required frequent grooming. Required a firm hand. She was irascible, irresponsible, a diddler. She was an eye-gouger, a tail-yanker, an ear-puller, a back-sitter, a leg-chewer."" And Rooke (Fat Woman) does well by the Elizabethan paratactics here, the Shakespearean ventriloquism--a mini-tour-de-force--while also offering the impressive construction of an inner nature for the dog Hooker: how, for instance, he'll eat anything and everything (including, like all dogs, his own vomit), yet has both conscience and a nature attracted to philosophy of sorts. But beyond this Rooke seems unable or unwilling to go; unlike the perspective in another contemporary dog-novel, Georgi Vladimov's brilliant Faithful Ruslan (1979), Hooker's dog-viewpoint leads to no story, no drama, no insight about what goes on in the world of the ""Two Feet."" And Rooke's Shakespeare could be just another oppressed, sit-corn husband. A flashy exercise, then, verbally expert and otherwise sketchy: this dog dances on its hind-feet, in other words, but it lacks bark or bite.

Pub Date: May 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983