06 April 2009

Dog Boy

by Eva Hornung

Text Publishing. Adult Other. Paperback rrp $32.95

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis Freelance Writer & Reviewer

This is an astonishing and highly original book of great depth, and perhaps one of the best books to be published this year. It is confronting and real in its raw detail. The story was born from a news report about a boy in Moscow living with dogs. We enter the canine world and their psyche. We view their habits, the strict routines they follow, the way they hunt and share, their high intelligence and strong instincts.

The story begins in the frozen surrounds of Moscow and carries over till the boy is eight. Romochka is three years old when he is abandoned by his mother and uncle in a tenement that has been stripped bare. After three days he dares to venture outside into the frozen and forbidden world beyond. Distracted and hungry, he follows three dogs, a female Alpha dog and two others, that allow him to accompany them to their lair. His survival instincts lead him to find warmth and sustenance by suckling the mother beside the litter of newborns. Thus the child accepts a new design for living. He learns to be a dog, regardless of his weak sense of smell, by watching and copying the pups and the older dogs.

Danger lies outside the lair. It is a new world, ‘divided into realms of danger and safety’. People leave him alone as he’s seen as a demon and is feared, for he is always accompanied by the pack. Through the winters, Romochka is forced to venture forth to find food which is always shared with the pack. He again observes and learns, this time from the homeless children which beg in the warmth of the underground railway stations. This is his food source when hunting is impossible.

But this human animal is threatened by external forces; the militia, the homeless that surround him, hunger and the cold, and the curiosity of scientists. The extraordinary decision he faces when he is forced back into the human world brings a shattering climax to the dog boy’s life.

No comments:

Post a Comment