Tag Archives: let the great world spin

Doggone It

Rosecrans Baldwin, whose debut novel You Lost Me There comes out later this summer, has written a hilarious piece about the most commonplace clichĂ© you never knew existed: “Novelists can’t resist including a dog barking in the distance.” And, Baldwin reveals, “Having heard the dog’s call, it seemed like I couldn’t find a book without one,” citing examples from works as diverse as William Faulkner‘s Light in August (“She did not answer for a time. The fireflies drifted; somewhere a dog barked, mellow sad, faraway”), Henning Mankell‘s The Eye of the Leopard (“She begins to tell him. The curtain in the kitchen window flutters gently, and a dog barks in the distance”), Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird (“Ripe chinaberries drummed on the roof when the wind stirred, and the darkness was desolate with the barking of distant dogs”), Colum McCann‘s Let the Great World Spin (“The street throbbed around me. Nobody’s fault but my own. The bark of a dog flew by”), and Roberto Bolano‘s 2666 (“The window looked out over the garden, which was still lit. A scent of flowers and wet grass drifted into the room. In the distance he heard a dog bark”).

What is going on? Are writers everywhere suffering from some unknown canine obsession? And are we going to find dog-bark-hunting in our future reading simply too irresistible? You bet we are! We plan to keep track of any we uncover and may share them with you at a later date; we would love it if you did the same. Is this the best new party game or what?

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On Our Nightstand, June 1st-7th

Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!

Anna in Brentwood
The Possessed
By Elif Batuman
Batuman’s funny, thoughtful journey through the world of Russian literature will make you want to (re)read Anna Karenina. It will not make you want to go to Uzbekistan.

John Peck in Oakland
American Vertigo
By Bernard-Henri Levy
Noted French thinker Bernard-Henri Levy travels through America in the footsteps of Tocqueville. Part travelogue, part essay, entirely engaging.

Kim in Malibu
The Routes of Man
By Ted Conover
A fascinating, readable, and humanistic account of how several key roads worldwide are changing and the impact this has on political, environmental, medical, and social concerns. The best piece of nonfiction I’ve read since Citizens!

Steffi in Oakland
Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
Written in a series of diverse and compelling POVs, this National Book Award-winning novel presents very believable and intriguing characters tied together by a fascinating storyline.

Thomas in Brentwood
Just Kids
By Patti Smith
Rock icon Patti Smith’s memoir is written with the greatest abundance of love for the hustlers, poets, thieves, mystics, and transients in her life. And of course, for her Robert Maplethorpe, who embodied all of the above.

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