The title of this book made me dread the question of “So, what are you reading?” The chapters of the book were divided by seasons and it took me an embarassingly long time for me to figure out that the book is thus titled because each word in the title is similar in sound to a corresponding season. This book is about a pariah named Ray (although his name is mentioned so seldomly in the book that I didn’t even remember that was his name until I saw it mentioned in book reviews) who adopts a one eyed dog he calls One Eye. Ray appears to have some sort of developmental disability or mental illness but a specific diagnosis is never given. His mother died when he was young and he was raised by an abusive father. He’s been isolated and ostracized his entire life. When he does interact with people he often gets himself in trouble, as his actions and behaviors generate fear and misunderstanding.
One Eye the dog has also been feared and ostracized by people because of his appearance and his aggressive streak. Ray and One Eye form a strong bond. When One Eye attacks another dog, Ray realizes that they are once again in trouble and decides to flee with his new pet.
I empathized and related to Ray because I know what it’s like to be a weirdo and a social reject, to be very different from most other people. I know what it’s like to be isolated and ostracized, to be misinterpreted and misunderstood, to inspire anger, fear, discomfort and disgust in others. It seemed appropriate that it was while I was reading this book at Barnes&Noble that someone decided to question me about my pacing, giving me yet another reminder of how abnormal I am ( See my “A Night at the Bookstore” blog.)
Ray talks about being called a troll. I’ve been called a troll as well. In my case the term troll referred to someone who messes with people on the internet but it all comes down to the same thing in the end. Someone posted a meme thing-y on the internet that says “Kira is a troll” with pictures of trolls in the background. As with Ray, people would often assume malice and ill intent on my part when there was none. There’s no question that there was malice and ill intent on the part of whoever posted that troll meme and I’m sure the same could be said of some of the people who went after Ray.
There’s a scene in the book where it’s revealed that Ray witnessed his father choking on a sausage but just let him choke to death rather than trying to save him. I couldn’t condemn Ray too harshly for making that choice because his father was so awful that it seemed like a case where it may have been better to just let nature take its course. Then again, even though Ray’s father did some pretty horrible things to Ray, maybe he was deserving of some compassion because it sounded like he struggled with mental illness. Maybe he passed some of his mental problems on to Ray through nature, nurture or a combination of the two.
I could also relate to Ray because I form deep bonds with my dogs. I love them very much, I fear losing them and am devastated when I do lose them. As I mentioned in another blog, like many people, I hate seeing dogs die in fiction (or nonfiction for that matter.) One Eye’s life was obviously in peril and I kept thinking ‘Please don’t let the dog die, please don’t let the dog die.” As I approached the end of the book it seemed that Ray was going to commit suicide and take the dog with him. I thought “Oh, please, anything but that.”
The actual ending of the book is rather ambiguous and open to interpretation. I’ll choose to believe that the dog lived.
Oh and I forgot to mention that it drove me crazy the way Ray kept giving One Eye chocolate. Don’t give your dogs chocolate, people. It’s toxic to them.