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Fifteen Dogs  By  cover art

Fifteen Dogs

By: André Alexis
Narrated by: André Alexis
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Publisher's summary

"I wonder," said Hermes, "what it would be like if animals had human intelligence."

"I'll wager a year's servitude," answered Apollo, "that animals - any animal you like - would be even more unhappy than humans are if they were given human intelligence."

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old dog ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.

André Alexis' contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.

©2015 André Alexis (P)2016 ECW Press

Critic reviews

"[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read.... A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Alexis manages to encapsulate an astonishing range of metaphysical questions in a simple tale about dogs that came to know too much. The result is a delightful juxtaposition of the human and canine conditions, and a narrative that, like just one of the dogs, delights in the twists and turns of the gods' linguistic gift." (Publishers Weekly)

"...I'm far from being a dog person, but as a book person I loved this smart, exuberant fantasy from start to finish." (Jonathan Gibbs, The Guardian)

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What listeners say about Fifteen Dogs

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Depressing.

Depressing. To give dogs the thoughts and behaviours of humans takes away my hope. Dogs are so pure and honest. I prefer to continue to think of them this way. It's an interesting concept, but the story just made me sad.

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7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Very good story but not exactly light-hearted!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it to be a quick and engrossing read. A friend loaned it to me when my dog passed away and I was expecting an uplifting light story about the kindness in dogs. Instead it is an extremely thoughtful - and at times dark - tale about the complexities of human intelligence, with a very poignant ending. I would recommend this to the modern day philosophers and thinkers, and specifically any of you who live in Toronto!

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lord of the Fleas

A sort of Lord of the Flies in reverse, in which we see what happens when beasts are bestowed with human intellect.

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A phenomenal exploration of humanity

Five stars all round! Alexis manages to capture the conflicts of human existence in a way that both rings true and feels unique. He's a great reader, though there are a couple production hitches. I loved this book!

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I couldn't stop listening!

I just finished and am too overwhelmed to write a review that would not include spoilers.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Read this book!

This is a great read. Apollo and Hermes make a wager about whether dogs could be happy if they were bestowed with human intelligence. The ensuing tale is a real page turner.

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4 people found this helpful

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What Sentience Is

I truly believe that all beings have some degree of sentience. If only we humans would open wide our definition and see that the ability to speak does not set the bar.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful, unique

This is the first dog story I have come across that gives new insight into "dog-ness" which, aside from all the other philosophical questions raised, gives refreshing food for thought for any dog lover.

I found the book delightful: thought-provoking, tender, humourous.

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3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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I wanted to love this...

I had high hopes for this book. Several people I respect said it was excellent, but I now have to disagree.

The narrator/author's reading is ponderously slow and his pronunciation is often pompous. (And, no, it has nothing to do with his "Canadian accent." I'm from Toronto, and no one I know talks like that.) By half way through chapter two, I decided to increase the listening speed to 1.25, which helped a little.

The story itself takes far too long to get moving. The first couple of hours are all told in a matter-of-fact, distant narrative style. It was all telling, no showing. I wanted to become invested in the characters and watch scenes unfold, but the reader is kept at arm's length as the author quickly kills off characters that we don't care about. I'm sure the author did this on purpose, but it didn't make me want to keep reading. It made me want to return it.

By the third chapter (and the chapters are quite long), I finally started to care a little. When the focus was on one dog's story, we got to see more than the 2-dimensional cardboard cutout characters who had previously been running around High Park, and there were finally moments that were both funny and touching.

By the end, though, I still can't recommend this novel. I was really listening for the allegory and insight that others have said they appreciated in this story, but it wasn't enough to win me over. I'm glad I finished it, but I wish I had spent my credit on something else.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic!

Fifteen Dogs is a beautiful and moving narrative. This recording offers a fantastic reading by the author.

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3 people found this helpful