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Outside the Dog Museum

(Answered Prayers #4)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,585 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Harry Radcliffe is a brilliant prize-winning architect---witty and remarkable. He's also a self-serving opportunist, ready to take advantage of whatever situations, and women, come his way. But now, newly divorced and having had an inexplicable nervous breakdown, Harry is being wooed by the extremely wealthy Sultan of Saru to design a billion-dollar dog museum. In Saru, he ...more
Paperback, 267 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Orb Books (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  1,585 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: table, distant-lands

while i wait, seemingly endlessly, for subterranean press to send me my damn copy of The Woman Who Married a Cloud: Collected Stories, i will sit here and reflect on older jonathan carroll books and try to get him a few more fans. periodically, i will plop one of these reviews out for my unsung heroes: jonathan carroll and donald harington, in hopes that someone will take the bait.

frequently it works.

this particular book is a good starting point for someone looking to enter the world of
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this on the recommendation of a friend, who told me that this was one of her favorite books but didn't tell me what it was about. In retrospect, I'm glad she didn't try to summarize this story, and that I went into it with only the short synopsis on the back cover to go on.

Even after finishing the book, I'm not sure if I can describe the plot, or if I should even try. On the surface, the story is about an architect being hired by the sultan of a Middle Eastern country to build a museum
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are times when I'd like to punch that hamster in my head, that one that wakes me up in the middle of the night to start spinning its stupid little wheel or causes every action to be immediately followed by a paralyzing few hours of second-guessing, did I say the right thing or wouldn't it have been better if I had done that instead ohgodletmegobackintimeandredoit! It reminds me a little of that Calvin&Hobbes strip where the dad points out angular velocity to Calvin and the last panel ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
how to begin? how to begin again?

the novel begins by introducing us to a world-class architect, named harry radcliffe, who has a nervous breakdown, acquires the services of a shaman, and then tries to put his life back together. he is asked to design a dog museum in a fictional middle eastern country called saru, by the current leader, the sultan. what follows after this is established leaps into a beguiling and peculiar story, where magic and god seem to thread themselves through harry's quest
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Even though I haven't quite finished reading this yet, the ending won't change the way I already feel. I will love this book no matter what the final unfolding reveals. Jonathan Carroll's writing has invoked in me a similar feeling as to when I first encountered Haruki Murakami and Tom Robbins in my younger years. A feeling that I must consume everything he has ever written as soon as my slow eyes can carry me across that finish line. But I'm older now and realize I must resist this urge. Resist ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fox by: karen
I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible for Jonathan Carroll to write something that I won't enjoy.

I came upon The Ghost in Love like a starving person, devouring every word and finding myself ultimately unsatisfied by the end of the book. The dissatisfaction did not come from disappointment in the story, the characters, or the writing - it was instead a devastating realization that the book was done. From that moment on I've been looking for these books madly, reading them all as
Feb 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2013
Just not enough at stake here, and I think I may just need to stop reading books whose narrators/protagonists are callow contemporary American white guys for a while. Literarily, they form a remarkably narrow type that has been so completely over-explored to so little resulting revelation that I simply don't CARE about what happens to them anymore, whether or not there's magic involved, or biblical fairy tales, or whatever. There, I've said it. I thought of trying another of Carroll's books, but ...more
mark monday
it's so goofy and cute and unpredictable but sometimes I have a real hard time enjoying goofy and cute and unpredictable.
Christopher Buchanan
Feb 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-slag-heap
I do like Jonathan Carroll's voice. He creates some very real and visceral scenery and some of his witticisms are of a Vonnegut caliber. In short bursts, he uses words to great effect. But the larger story, well that's something else. For those of you that are Carroll fans and asked me to read more of his work, I invite you to stop reading this now, because I am done saying nice things about this book.

The first quarter of this book started off well enough. It centers on Harry Radcliffe. Harry is
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it
"Outside the Dog Museum" was the first Jonathan Carroll novel I read. And I say "was", because I plan on reading more, even though this is the only one I have read.

Here is a synopsis from Publishers Weekly via Amazon.Com:

Here his narrator is a curmudgeonly genius, the aphorizing architect Harry Radcliffe, who, with the aid of a maverick therapist, has recently recovered from a mental collapse and is ready to reexamine his constructs of reality. He's also rebounding from an amicable divorce and
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
The only reasons I picked up this book were that it was on the $1 rack at Half Price Books, I'd recently acquired a dog, and I like museums. I had never heard of the author. Oh, the main character was supposed to be an architect, and I like architecture, too. So I decided to give it a shot, and since it is a quirky book that was off my radar, I am reviewing it as well.

Do not read this book if you have no tolerance for mysticism (e.g. if you are my brother-in-law). There are magical realist
Theo Logos
Jonathan Carroll writes novels as most of us live our lives; the journey is a muted wonder, while the destination/end is mostly boring, banal, and unfulfilling. Few of us have a chance at a heroic, or even a particularly interesting death, and more of us than not arrive at it with more regrets than not. Yet, if we are honest and observant, our lives are full of fascinating pleasures and sadness, small wonders, brief epiphanies, and, if we pay close attention, even moments of true magic. Our end ...more
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually love Jonathan Carroll but this is a mess which goes nowhere slow. Unlike many of his books which set up believeable characterisation and then insert an element of 'magic' and proceed to completely f*ck up those characters, this feels like the disparate threads of several books have been sewn together badly without any dramatic tension or interest. An architect coming through a mental breakdown is given a commission to build a Dog Museum - but really it's a test of his strength and ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my friends who are architects, who study religion, who like dogs, who are human
Shelves: favorites
This the second in just as many of Carroll's books that I have read that have made me weep at the end of them. Just flat out weep. Not just because they are ending and because they are utterly poignant but because they express with such power what it means to be worth something and to have a purpose in life. To be a screw-up and to still be important in the story of things. To close your eyes to the possibilities of life until life has to smack you in the face with them. To get everything wrong ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I've reached my limit with Carroll. Patterns become apparent: a strong-voiced narrator, engaging and interesting characters, the gradual introduction of the strange and inexplicable and how Carroll squares the circle by explaining them in a late-game revelation of a system or project far larger and stranger than the reader expected. The nature of that revelation is really not important, perhaps even an afterthought, but often relates to how mankind reaches toward God. But the important ...more
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Quirky, thoughtful, and funny. Great narrative voice, and a dead-on eyeball for L.A. - even though this is a global story, it's L.A. to the core. Memorable characters, lyrical prose, and an unpredictable story arc. Now I want to read everything else by this guy!
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
First book from this author that I read. Led to a life-long love affair, all his books are amazing!
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't know why I like this book at all. I guess it's unique enough and has some good lines.

The protagonist was not fun or clever enough to make up for him being a shitty unsympathetic dude who is somehow the focus of a love triangle. I am so tired of shitty dude love stories. The Fountainhead has more grace and architectural genius and human spirit in a less annoying way than this book.

I was hoping it all was setting up for some payoff beyond "shitty dude realizes he's a shitty dude and says
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I would probably rate this 3.5 starts if half-stars were an option, but am choosing to round it down rather than up. Having just finished this book, I'm not immediately sure what to think. On the one hand, it presented unexpected twists and turns around every corner; I could not see the path ahead. This kept me reading, engaged, and at times, pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, I found the religious allegory a bit forced and underwhelming - more like a sudden afterthought than a theme set ...more
Kimberly Scearce-levie
From all the reviews and blurbs and recommendations based on similar authors, it seems like I should love Johnathan Carroll. But I just can’t get into his work, with Outside the Dog Museum being a prime example of what I can’t appreciate. The main character is thoroughly unlikeable; the plot is sketchy and unevenly paces, and fairly tedious sophomoric ramblings on purpose, sanity, meaning and love keep interrupting the text. I made it through the whole book, but I will have forgotten it all by ...more
Denman G.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novel
I liked the novel while disliking the protagonist. Moreover, I know the protagonist is someone who would dislike me. The characters and world building were solid, but the plot collapsed at the end. Carroll borrowed heavily from the surrealists without quite creating a surrealist story. It reads to me as if his imagination spun out on him at the conclusion, and that led to failure of both delivery and substance.
Dale Watts
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Nowhere near as good as some of the author's other books, this is in no way a bad book, but the story didn't really do anything for me and isn't something I could relate to on any level. Skip this, and try his excellent The Land of Laughs a try instead.
Julie Tridle
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I appreciated this book, but didn't particularly enjoy or connect with it.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
So I finished reading a great novel by a writer new to me: Jonathan Carroll. Reading Outside the Dog Museum rejuvenated me. Flawed characters with questionable morales questioning life, magic of the ordinary and extraordinary kind, varied geography that has re-ignited that never-quite-out itch to travel in me.

“Architecture is either creating space, or whittling it down: The glass is half-empty or half-full. In my heyday I liked to think we were creating new space, consequently better and more
Glen Engel-Cox
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another “Venasque” novel, named after the only character that appears in all of them (includingBones of the Moon,Sleeping in Flame, andA Child Across the Sky; John Clute calls this cycle of novels “Answered Prayers” which is an even better descriptor),Outside the Dog Museumcenters around another artist type, Henry Radcliffe. Radcliffe is an architect at the height of his powers and popularity, and is being pressured by the Sultan of Saru to design and build for him the museum of the title. The ...more
Pam Baddeley
This rated only 2.5 stars really, rounded up to 3 in view of the unlikeable protagonist whose eventual realisation of how horridly he has treated his two girlfriends is rather too little and too late. This is the story of Harry Radcliffe who was mentioned in 'Sleeping in Flame', an arrogant and conceited architect who has a mental breakdown then recovers and is engaged to build a museum to honour dogs by the progressive sultan of a fictional Middle Eastern country.

The story is a mishmash of
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
2019 reread project: book four of twenty-four.

Starting to think that I should have interspersed some other books between my Jonathan Carroll reread, but I really wanted to read these six books in order as I did not read them in order when I was younger. (And to be fair, reading them in order has been a pretty interesting undertaking as there is a lot more interplay between these novels than I remember.)

In some ways, I regret rereading these books. They were so magical to 20 year old me. But
Whitney Shroyer
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my wife and my "we're getting married" book - Jonathan Carroll was our courtin' author, and we ran around San Francisco on our honeymoon going to bookshops and picking up his entire ouvre, including a signed 1st of this book. Carroll's whole dark-but-sweet mystical worldview (Tom Robbins with more subtle humor and a little bit more weight)(or is that an anglophilic Murakami?)(a less intellectually rigid late period PK Dick?) and loosely interconnected universe made his 90s output very ...more
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
For about the first 50 pages I loved this book. Then it took a slow dive off a cliff. The writing is sharp and at least sometimes witty, but pretty soon what feels like a fun, breezy intro becomes the whole book. It's like the whole thing is an epilogue where later events in the characters' lives are quickly sped through. The book is filled with magical events presented in a commonplace way meant to feel realistic, but they're so casually strewn about that it has the opposite effect; the magic ...more
Stacey (bookishpursuit)
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
The only reason I didn't give it 5 was because I didn't feel a sense of urgency to find out what happened next. Otherwise Jonathan Carroll is a literary genius. He weaves humor in with serious seamlessly. His story is wrought with higher messages. Many of the references he makes are beyond my intellectual base. I was surprised that this story had a strong message of higher purpose and God. It starts out showing the protagonist as a selfish, narcissistic SOB and evolves into fantasy,
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Jonathan Carroll (b. 1949) is an award-winning American author of modern fantasy and slipstream novels. His debut book, The Land of Laughs (1980), tells the story of a children’s author whose imagination has left the printed page and begun to influence reality. The book introduced several hallmarks of Carroll’s writing, including talking animals and worlds that straddle the thin line between ...more

Other books in the series

Answered Prayers (6 books)
  • Bones of the Moon (Answered Prayers, #1)
  • Sleeping in Flame (Answered Prayers, #2)
  • A Child Across the Sky (Answered Prayers, #3)
  • After Silence (Answered Prayers, #5)
  • From the Teeth of Angels (Answered Prayers, #6)
“You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip.” 79 likes
“BUYING A PAIR OF shoes is one of the most optimistic acts I know, next to falling in love. I like nothing better than to see an old man wearing a brand new pair of brogues or cap-toed oxfords, preferably jaunty orange-brown, unscuffed, heels unworn. We want to be here tomorrow, but buying new shoes, like falling in love, says I plan on being here tomorrow.” 8 likes
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