The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Shadow Catcher, by Marianne Wiggins

This is an astonishing book.

Marianne Wiggins writes beautifully, yes, but she also knows how to tell a story — or two stories, as is the case here. There were several “oh, wow” moments for me as I read The Shadow Catcher, and that doesn’t count the couple of deus ex machina coincidences. By time I came to those, I was willing to suspend belief to a far greater degree than normal, simply because Wiggins had drawn me in.

Ostensibly about renowned turn-of-the-20th-century photographer Edward Curtis, the book is really about America, family, setting values, honesty, integrity, and the unforeseen consequences of our actions. Mostly it’s about honesty. The story begins with a novelist named Marianne Wiggins who has written a book about Edward Curtis. He, in turn, was not what he appeared to be, and neither were his photographs. Wiggins-the-character suddenly receives a call that her father is dying in a Las Vegas hospital, which isn’t possible because he’s been dead for 30 years. The two story lines weave back and forth, with the occasional intersection. As emphasized by a disclaimer, this is not a history of Edward Curtis, although some of his photographs are included. I don’t know the extent to which Wiggins-the-character shares her history Wiggins-the-real-person. There is that disclaimer again, but there are also family photographs and a referrence to family history in the acknowledgements.

It doesn’t matter. This is a superb book, and you should read it. As for the animal characters, there are none. There are several references to horses, however, which are greatly loved by one of Curtis’s in-laws, and there is a reference to a single incident of a horse in trouble. So I am declaring this book is SAFE for animal lovers.

Now, go get your hands on a copy.* You haven’t read anything like it.

*As of last week, Amazon.com was selling the hardcover for half the price of the paperback.

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August 23, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews | , , , ,

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