THE LAST DODO by Richard Boyd


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The device that unites these seven urbane short stories is childish--captive animals, all English-speaking, tell tales in a pet shop. They range from fairy tale (a Chinese one told by the fish about two lovers turned to apricot trees) to unresolved adult drama (the parrot's, about a pirate, the Sargasso sea, and a desperate message disregarded). The raccoon's account of a spiteful escape is actively youthful, the caterpillars go into natural history describing their own life cycle, the Dodo creates a rationalization of his species' demise in a vain king and his palace of Dodo eggs, the ape contributes an adult fairy tale with no ending of a princess turned to glass, her spirit encased in the body of an ape. Seven narratives for the days of the week, widely varied and highly original--but the underlying attitude is mature cynicism tinged with hope, informed by a mature sensibility. The naive framework persists through the end: the pet shop proprietor takes the ring from the ape to buy a farm where the animals can be free. An intriguing lot with a lot of merit, little Juvenile appeal.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1967
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux