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Funeral for a Dog

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  268 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Journalist Daniel Mandelkern leaves Hamburg on assignment to interview Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author who lives alone on the Italian side of Lake Lugano with his three-legged dog. Mandelkern has been quarreling with his wife (who is also his editor); he suspects she has other reasons for sending him away.After stumbling on a manuscript of Svensson's abou ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 28th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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Apr 21, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that I had no idea what Borromean rings were (by name) when I started reading this but it would be helpful to have the image in your mind when you open the first page. The theme of three stories, lives or other concepts, linking seamlessly together is woven in many manifestations through the book. Three players, three stories, three stages of each story, etc., are the basics for the foundation of the propelling forward of the storyline. I loved the concept, even though, ov ...more
Apr 04, 2016 Franziska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es ist schwer dieses Buch in Worte zu fassen. Es wird viel gestorben (Hähne, Hunde, Menschen...), es gibt viele Rätsel und menschliche Dramen. Und doch ist dieses Buch ganz anders. Besonders am Ende sehr stark und überraschend.
Für Leute, die bereit sind sich auf eine ganz eigene Story einzulassen und Zeit mitbringen um sie zu begreifen.
Jun 02, 2011 Janet rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: George & Jon
Shelves: german
Very different than anything I've ever read and it's sticking to me like the proverbial gum on the bottom of your shoe. One Goodreads reviewer said it was not a book to be read when you're feeling tired which I interpret to mean they had trouble following along with all the jump cutting and alternating narrators. My experience with the first 100 pages is that it merely made me feel tired because there just wasn't that much going on - vague longings, inability to communicate, sensation of being m ...more
Blake Fraina
Oct 11, 2011 Blake Fraina rated it liked it
Life is a spiral; not a line.

Daniel Mandelkern, a German journalist, puts this in a postcard to his wife/editor, who has sent him to Lake Lugano, Italy to write a 3,000 word piece on reclusive children’s book author Dirk Svensson. This conclusion comes to him after spending a lost weekend at Svensson’s ramshackle lakeside cottage, drinking Bombay gin by the glassful, smoking incessantly, lusting after Svensson’s lady-friend, Tulli, and watching Svensson’s three-legged dog, Lua, slowly die of old
Jason Lilly
Mar 05, 2012 Jason Lilly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who are looking for something different
I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway!

Funeral for a Dog just might be unlike any other book. Though tough to follow at times, it was refreshing to read a story that is unpredictable and does not follow a linear pattern. Pletzinger's hipster style of writing may not be for everyone, but I was impressed. The journalistic style of Daniel Mandelkern's entires versus the drunken, stream-of-counciousness style of the eccentric Dirk Svensson's memoirs was an excellent contrast and no doubt required g
I really wanted to like this book because the premise seemed so original, the style so imaginative, the story somewhat whimsical. Unfortunately, I found it mostly confusing. To begin with, the author's use of parentheses is more than excessive (on average, multiple times a paragraph and/or passage). Although useful every so often, it becomes much more distracting at this frequency.

Secondly, maybe it should have been obvious, but it would have been nice to know that every other chapter (phrase t
Jan 27, 2013 Sahra rated it it was amazing
Despite a bizarre narrative structure, this was an amazing read. A random pick-up from my local library - the cover with its neon colours and the word 'dog' attracting my attention - I'm so pleased I stuck with it. The initial Mandelkern stuff got a bit wearing, but the addition of Svensson, Lua et al made the book came alive.
Apr 05, 2014 Darin rated it really liked it
A continent-hopping road trip through memory, grief, love and loss, Thomas Pletzinger's debut novel lives up to the hype as it is translated into English for the first time. Would-be-journalist Daniel Mandelkern is sent by his editor, and wife, Elizabeth, to interview reclusive children's author Svensson, who has recently published a bestselling children's book called Leo and the Notmuch. Along the way, he stumbles upon a hidden manuscript of Svensson's and the book switches back and forth betwe ...more
Peter Kay
Apr 12, 2011 Peter Kay rated it really liked it
Awesome for all the reasons you've read about, but the first book with scenes set during 9/11 that I didn't want to fling out of the window in a rage
Oct 10, 2014 GONZA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast-Journalist Daniel Mandelkern wird von seinem Herausgeber, und Frau, Elizabeth, geschickt, um Kinderbuchautor Svensson interviewen. Auf dem Weg, stößt er auf eine verborgene Handschrift des Svensson und das Buch schaltet hin und her zwischen Auszüge des Manuskripts und Mandelkern Versuche zur Sinn sowohl sein Thema und sein eigenes Leben zu machen. Das sagte, war dieses Buch für mich absolut schwierig, weil Deutsch nicht einfach war und der Autor Schaltzeiten und Person jedes Kapitel wechsel ...more
Friederike Knabe
May 14, 2011 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it
Shelves: german-lit
Thomas Pletzinger has been making waves with his debut novel, FUNERAL FOR A DOG, both in his home country, Germany, and now internationally. Presenting his novel in an intriguing structure, Pletzinger introduces two distinct narrators who spin their inner and outer stories almost like a dance between them. One often writes in short vignette-type memory snippets with indicative titles ("My titles, my filing drawers") and reminder hooks in brackets , the other writes fluidly and expansively, like ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Sharyl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-reads
Dirk Svensson has written a children's book called Leo and the Notmuch. It's a children's picture book about grief, and it's such a phenomenal hit that Daniel Mandelkern has been dispatched by his wife (also his boss) to interview Svensson and publish a nice, long profile of the man behind this incredible book.

Daniel Mandelkern is really an ethnologist attempting to be a journalist, and his wife, Elisabeth, is sure that Daniel is the perfect person for this job. In the end, it appears that she i
Apr 02, 2014 Tami rated it really liked it
I'm not sure I completely understand all the nuance of what happened in this novel, but I had a great time reading it!!! It's a novel with 2 narrators - Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author de jour living on Lake Lugano, and Daniel Mandelkern, who travels there to interview him for a newspaper assignment given to him by his wife/boss. Svensson's narration covers the backstory of himself, a woman named Tuuli (who Daniel discovers lives with Svensson in Lugano), their friend Felix, an ...more
Victor Carson
This novel appears on the Fiction Longlist for the 2012 Fifth Annual Best Translated Book Awards, chosen by Three Percent, an online resource for international literature at the University of Rochester (of which I am an alumnus). I liked the novel but was somewhat put-off by the structure, which unnecessarily rearranges the narrative into non-chronological pieces.

The underlying stories are somewhat simple: a magazine editor assigns a journalist to interview the author of a very popular children
Nov 30, 2013 Featherbooks rated it really liked it
German writer Thomas Pletzinger and his translator Ross Benjamin achieve remarkable success with this first novel told by an ethnologist acting as a journalist who seeks to interview a reclusive children’s author living on Lake Lugano in Italy. Three stories are told, the first in New York on September 11th, next at the lakeside vacation home, and earlier in NE Brazil where the three protagonists meet and find Lua, the dog of the title, plus bits in Finland and Germany. The book is about memory ...more
Steffi Iron
Jul 31, 2011 Steffi Iron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Pletzinger schreibt seinen Debütroman mit einem unheimlich guten Rhythmus, einer verwobenen Erzähldichte und das noch mit einem ausgesprochenen ausgefeilten Sprachstil. Es gibt Szenen, die sind so gut getaktet, dass man die Bewegung, die Hektik, die überstürzenden Ereignisse fast körperlich spürt. Man ist außerdem sofort drin in der der Story, man muss dran bleiben, ist gefangen in der Geschichte und den beiden Hauptfiguren: Daniel Mandelkern (Journalist) und später auch in Svenssons Welt ...more
May 02, 2011 Kristy rated it really liked it
The lives of two German men, a reclusive writer turned children's book author and an ethnologist turned journalist, collide when the journalist travels to Italy to interview the author for a 3000 word profile. The story alternates between the ethnologist's notes and the author's unpublished biographical novel and dips in and out of their unusual present and complicated pasts. Circling around them are three women, two children, a dead friend, and an old black dog with three legs. The women are al ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Kelsey rated it liked it
I'm debating between 3 and 4 stars for this one...I'd give it a 3.5 overall. Got this free from Goodreads giveaways!

This was a tough book to get into. The writing style was difficult to understand at the beginning, but once I started to understand his observations and nuances, I definitely liked it more. The book is actually 3 stories in one, which coupled with the different writing style really turned me off in the beginning. But again, once I got used to the characters and the pattern of the
Audrey Foreman
May 20, 2011 Audrey Foreman rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from GoodReads First Reads.

This book illustrates how the lives of 2 men intersect - a children's author, and an ethnologist (cultural anthropologist) who is currently working as a freelance journalist. The journalist travels to Italy to write a 3000 word essay on the reclusive author.

One thing about this book that I wasn't thrilled with was the bouncing plot line - it traveled from the present, to the past - of both main characters. It was a bit easier to follow than some s
Jun 26, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Don't be fooled by the other reviews you read on this site: Funeral For a Dog is a work of genius that is experimental in only the mildest of ways (it isn't impenetrable like a Barth or Gaddis, difficult like Pynchon, and is actually just whimsical and thought provoking like David Foster Wallace). It is a book that is warm and shows how people cope in the face of unspeakable tragedy, yet not in the smarmy and overly sentimental manner of all the terrible authors beloved by Oprah. There is great ...more
Rose Gowen
May 23, 2011 Rose Gowen rated it liked it
This book is good. I wish I had not read it immediately after reading a huge masterpiece. It is too bad that it has some elements in common with A Book of Memories, the huge masterpiece (Germans, a love triangle, turning life into art via writing, two intertwined stories).

So, though I was not the best reader for this book at the time that I read it, I say it is a good book. Of the two intertwined stories, one (the story of the love triangle) is more interesting than the other (a journalist tries
Apr 17, 2011 Nancy rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I am disappointed to state that I didn't finish this First Reads book. Perhaps it is just too experimental for my taste but 110 pages into the book I found I didn't have the heart to keep reading.

I cringe to think that I am not open-minded or bright enough for this prize-winning debut that has been called "rigorously intellectual." I missed the smart part and got trapped in the dreary, "where's this going" part.

As a reader, I like to be challenged by a book. And, I also like to be pulled out of
Kris Fernandez-everett
one of those books that you read, look back on, and think, 'it took 330 pages to tell me that someone died, it altered the nature of a three way relationship, and a guy can't deal with that -- really?'... never got out of exposition for me, never connected with any of the characters except for the dying dog... go figure... interesting narrative structure -- but it was too perfunctory, too much like the author read his own creative writing class notes and followed them to the letter... all in all ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Ben rated it liked it
Written in a unique format and style but tends to be a bit unnecessarily difficult to follow at times.
Will E
Apr 18, 2011 Will E rated it really liked it
Very poignant story about the messyness of love and life/death. That's super vague but whatever. The strange writing style of the main narrative voice might throw some people off at first, but it's surprisingly effective.

Yeah, in my mind "messy"is the word that best describes this novel, but (at least 80% of the time) in a good way. The Svensson-Tuuli-Felix relationship was hard to understand, almost frustratingly so (I guess these sorts of thing happen? Chalk it up to lack of life experience),
Apr 18, 2011 Dan rated it liked it
It is hard for me to describe Funeral For A Dog since I haven’t never read something like this. A journalist is sent out to interview a reclusive children’s book author. Daniel (the journalist) tells his story as though they are journal entries and sometimes goes off on tangents. The author’s story is told as though he is writing a book. And somehow these two meet and write about the same things differently. Does that make sense? It was not an easy read and certainly not for everyone, including ...more
Nikki Hepburn
Oct 01, 2011 Nikki Hepburn rated it liked it
I may need to read this again, probably not the best book for reading a couple of pages in bed each night. I found I needed to re-read portions, but I did enjoy it and it has haunted me since. The structure is slightly challenging and I found the chapters set in South America a little undeveloped, but perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention. Having lost a dog to old age in recent years I had an added empathic investment in the story line. Quite humurous too.
Apr 04, 2011 Dylan rated it really liked it
From the moment I started reading the book I was confused as to where it was going, i knew nothing about this book having entered the giveaway at random. Once i got through the first 50 pages though i found the characters were very likable and interesting along with the story itself, but 3/4s of the way through it, having already finished the main story I found myself a bit bored with it. Other than that though, i found the book a wonderful read.
Dec 09, 2012 Will rated it it was ok
Half-cute, half-tremendously sad study of love and friendship. Was annoyed most of the time spent reading this book, can't tell if it was because I was annoyed with the author's style (probably) or the fact his female characters are so flat and stereotypical I started questioning if the author had ever met a woman in real life (more likely). His male characters weren't much better. The three-legged dog is the best character. Blah.
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Born in 1975, Thomas Pletzinger has won several awards for his writing, including fellowships and teaching positions at the University of Iowa, New York University, and Grinnell College. He lives in Berlin.
More about Thomas Pletzinger...

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“Svensson is renovating his ruin.” 2 likes
“Svensson has struggled as everyone struggles, he’s conceded his defeats. He’s not a player, but he has lost nonetheless. Svensson is no stranger than the rest of us. At some point he decided to stop playing the game, and turned to the tangible things: Svensson and the painter Kiki Kaufman have a daughter named Bella. Bella has two teeth (the research intern did a terrible job). Svensson and Kiki are turning a ruin into a house, they’re turning a study into a nursery, they plant and harvest and breed animals and slaughter and cook.” 1 likes
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