Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller

Women’s Press SF, 1988, 150 p

Carmen Dog cover

All over the world women are turning into animals and animals into women. The narrative focuses on the adventures of Pooch, a dog turned woman, who has a yearning for opera and a pure singing voice. (She briefly thinks of calling herself Pucci.) Her particular interest is Carmen, hence the book’s title.

The men in this scenario are non-plussed by the changes, seeking either to deny or exploit it. (And their carnal desires are never very far away.) Chapter headings are quotes from the likes of Nietzsche, Apuleius and Marcus Aurelius and the text has embedded references such as, “stare at each other with wild surmises.”

It’s all gloriously over-the-top but at the same time an oblique look at gender relations in the 1980s. In particular, one gent has come to the belief “that motherhood should be dealt out, even to infants, in small insignificant doses so that it can be held within reasonable bounds.”

Pedant’s corner:- “that moves her mosts of all” (most of all,) sharks teeth (sharks’ teeth,) concensus (consensus,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech. “None of the others return” (none returns,) “107s is” (it was a possessive, 107’s,) “‘I know its doesn’t match’” (it,) “if worse should come to worst” (the phrase is ‘if the worst should come to the worst,’ as was employed elsewhere,) “none of them come at all” (none … comes,) “will surely be one of the last, if not the last, building to fall” (one of the last … buildings to fall,) “like three phoenix” (phoenixes or phoenices,) nowdays (nowadays.)

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