The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Black Elk in Paris, by Kate Horsley

I loved Horsley’s Confessions of a Pagan Nun, and therefore assumed I would at least like Black Elk in Paris. Instead, I was profoundly disappointed with this book. Whereas Confessions was haunting and thought-provoking, Black Elk seemed pointless, as if it were going nowhere. And yet it started off strong, with Madou Balise, a young woman in 1890s Paris, being held in a mental institution due to her imperious father’s inability to deal with female emotions.

Flashing back, we see Madou and her new friend/lover Choice (aka Black Elk) through the eyes of the third member of the triangle, Dr. Phillippe Normand. Dr. Normand occasionally dines with the Balise family, who are as dysfunctional as any family in literature, and takes short excursions with various family members, plus Choice. Maybe Dr. Normand is gay, or bisexual, or straight. Maybe Choice is overwrought at being unable to return to his homelands in America. Maybe Madou is free-spirited, though she seems mostly frivolous and indecisive. Maybe I don’t care. Maybe I feel grumpy because at the time I read this book, I’d had a long run of reading some excellent books but then encountered two duds in a row.

Anyway, about the animals: Madou’s sister Cecile carries around a small dog with the unfortunate name of Pee-Poo. She also gets involved in anti-vivisectionist activities, inspiring Dr. Normand to take an uncharacteristically bold step at one point. Choice recounts his sea voyage to Europe, during which some of the horses that were brought along died. Other than that unpleasant image, this book is SAFE for animal lovers.


December 6, 2008 - Posted by | Book Reviews, history | , , ,

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