Somewhere a cliche barked

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rosecrans Baldwin points out the uncanny ability of dogs to bark in the literary distance. He points out how many novels use a variation of the phrase "Somewhere a dog barked" and ensures that it will become the literary inside joke of a generation of writers:

Well, what if these dogs aren’t just cliché, but something more? What if they’re a meme? Perhaps distant dogs are a way for novelists to wink at one another, at their extraordinary luck for being allowed into the publishing club. When an author incorporates a faceless barking dog into his novel, he’s like an amateur at Harlem’s Apollo Theater rubbing the Tree of Hope—he does it because so many others have done it before him, and it might just bring him some luck.