Book Review – Word of Dog

By Michael Barker

Now, it is nearly Christmas, and time to start ticking pressies off the pressies list for your loved ones. Sometimes – or should we confess, often, when totally bereft of other ideas – we default to the book, and not just any book, but a book that might look good on a coffee table.

Well, here’s a book hot off Fremantle Press’ press that you should definitely consider buying on a number of bases. It’s playfully titled Word of Dog by local Fremantle painter and writer Megan Anderson. It could qualify as a coffee-table book, but it’s more than that – it’s the ultimate thinking person’s coffee-table book! Let me explain.

Meg has had a lovely career to date as a journalist. Lately she has become a painter too. And a writer. In Word of Dog she brings both painting and writing skills together.

I mention both skills, because while Word of Dog is a coffee-table book, as I suggest it’s a coffee-table book with a difference. It not only is replete with super-cute sketches of mutts, but also contains wry reflections on life.

They might be the reflections of the depicted dogs, but they might also be those of humans. Megan’s perhaps? Surely not.

Take this one, for example –
‘What gets my goat is people
finishing my sentences.
They hardly ever get it right.
Why not just let me do it?
It’d save a lot of time.
Just saying.’

Now this could be a Dog giving us the the Word, but on closer inspection I tend to think Meg may be dumping on friends and family or those who were sitting too close to her table at the coffee shop and whose conversations she overheard while painting on her iPad! (More of the iPad later.)

My ironic favourite reflection though is –
‘Speaking in haiku
gets tiresome for some people,
but I’m fine with it.’

Meg has also included snapshot bios of people, which make you smile. For example, ‘Harriet’, a ‘Horse Physio’, admires ‘A well put together terrarium’, and lists her favourite word as ‘Codswallop’. (Long one of mine, along with ‘rambunctious’!)

This is a book you can sit with and read and get lost in. Or you can read it out loud to your partner. There’s no plot. Or story. The reflections it offers are disconnected. But strangely, you can find your own secret, innermost thoughts lurking in them.

And the paintings, the sketches of the dogs that accompany the reflections, are fabulous. Amazingly, all done on an iPad. Brilliantly done. They make you smile; even laugh out loud.

For $29.99 from Fremantle Press, you are unlikely to get so much Christmas joy from any other purchase!

To learn more about Megan Anderson, and Word of Dog, and Meg’s journey to this point, listen to Michael Barker’s conversation with her right here.