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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Landscape With Dog

Ersi Sotiropoulos

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To purchase Landscape With Dog

Title: Landscape With Dog
Author: Ersi Sotiropoulos
Genre: Novel
Written: (Eng. 2009)
Length: 166 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: Landscape With Dog - US
Landscape With Dog - UK
Landscape With Dog - Canada
  • and Other Stories
  • These stories are taken from the collection Ο βασιλιάς του φλίπερ (1998) and Αχτίδα στο σκοτάδι (2005)
  • Translated by Karen Emmerich

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Our Assessment:

B+ : fine, effective storytelling

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 19/10/2009 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Greek author Sotiropoulos (...) depicts the hollow, deceptive civility hidden within intimate relationships in this capably translated story collection featuring lovers, married couples, brothers and parents. (...) Each story demonstrates compelling depth and breadth, and involves heavy emotional stakes" - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Landscape With Dog collects seventeen stories by Ersi Sotiropoulos, most set in her native Greece (and a few in Italy). Most deal with close relationships, featuring a couple (or, perhaps more appropriately in some cases: a pair) or a small and somehow connected group. There is intimacy, and a variety of forms of love and passion -- but also distance and separation: few unions here survive, rare are the cases when the protagonist (often writing in the first person) is not left, at least in some way, to him- or herself.
       The stories are told in both the first and third person, and while many offer only what seem like relatively simple scenes-from-the-lives-of the characters they suggest a great deal about these lives and relationships. In almost all there is a failure to connect among the characters; expectations and hopes are dashed -- often unrealistic or absurd ones, as in 'An almost guineas fowl', in which the promise of a guinea fowl upsets the small-family order that seemed to have held so well until then.
       'Rain at the construction site' is perhaps the most representative work, with its lone protagonist, Loukas, who: "had known better times":

He got married and they had a beautiful girl with velvety eyes and skin like sugar. One summer the captain let him take his wife and daughter on a free trip. Something happened on that trip that still wasn't clear in his mind. His wife and daughter disembarked in Ancona to go shopping and never came back. Three months later he got a letter postmarked La Spezia, asking for a divorce. That was ten years ago and he hadn't seen either of them since.
       The story recounts both a phone call he receives from his long-lost daughter, and an encounter he has with a woman who has car trouble, and his fumbling efforts at connection with both. There's a touch of softness to the story, but Sotiropoulos remains brutally honest: there's little room left for any self-deception in her characters' lives any longer, and she'll not sugarcoat her stories for anyone.
       Predictably, even in a story where passion blooms and insatiable appetites are fed (and the protagonist is entirely successful: "Her book was almost finished and showed extraordinary promise. She was usually modest, but she knew that when it was published it would leave everyone speechless, even the sternest critics") Sotiropoulos does not allow a happy ending; it's one of the few stories that also feels somewhat forced, both in the good the characters enjoy, and the simple way out of the end.
       Sotiropoulos' stories are not dreary but they are dark and depressing; the fact that they feel true-to-life doesn't make it easier to make one's way through the whole lot. Smoothly written and translated, these are very readable tales, and Sotiropoulos' style and storytelling-approach do impress. But readers may well feel some of the characters' frustrations -- of life's many unfulfilled hopes and expectations -- too.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 January 2010

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Landscape With Dog: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Greek literature

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About the Author:

       Greek author Ersi Sotiropoulos (Έρση Σωτηροπούλου) was born in 1953.

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© 2010 the complete review

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