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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Albina and the Dog-Men

Alejandro Jodorowsky

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To purchase Albina and the Dog-Men

Title: Albina and the Dog-Men
Author: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 207 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Albina and the Dog-Men - US
Albina y los hombres-perro - US
Albina and the Dog-Men - UK
Albina and the Dog-Men - Canada
Albina et les hommes chiens - France
Albina o il popolo dei cani - Italia
Albina y los hombres-perro - España
  • Spanish title: Albina y los hombres-perro
  • Translated by Alfred MacAdam

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Our Assessment:

A- : beautifully bizarre

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 28/3/2016 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "A surrealist novel par excellence, Albina and the Dog-Men is a dream, a prophecy, a hallucination, and a transfiguration such as only Jodorowsky could induce." - 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:

       Albina and the Dog-Men begins with a sketch of the life of one of the main characters, nicknamed Crabby (who already at a young age identifies with the nickname and accepts: "the idea of being an aggressive crab separated from others by a hard shell"). It's already a remarkable piece of writing -- quick and summary, but vivid and revealing in its arresting imagery and brief highlights. It leads to Crabby coming across the young woman she calls Albina, saving her from an attack and then nurturing this creature who has lost all her memory and is as innocent as a baby.
       Within six months Albina is more or less fully adult, but retains an air of innocence. When Crabby is detained for a few weeks by the authorities for her illegal dealings, Albina transforms her shop into a different kind of enterprise: performing for the local men -- something between striptease, dance, and religious ritual. The men are transfixed, and worship Albina, their: "sexual desire transformed into mystical adoration".
       It makes for a successful business too -- until an inspector shows up and threatens to close them down if they don't make a deal with him. Instead, the two women go on the run -- eventually winding up in the sleepy town of Camiña, led there by Amado, whom they saved from suicide (a desperate attempt at escape from Camiña -- a town that death forgot and where no one dies). Crabby and Albina set up shop in Camiña -- and immediately draw large crowds of transfixed men.
       Idyllic though the bee-protected town in the middle of nowhere is, Crabby and Albina find they have some problems. Albina's powers seem to have some nasty side-effects, for one -- the bite she takes out of many of the men she encounters heals quickly, but Albina is infected with something that she passes on, and when the moon is full it brings out the animal -- the dog -- in those she's bitten. If not quite a werewolf tale, Albina and the Dog-Men is one of similar animal-transformation (and similar abandon, once the dog-men are in that state).
       Among the infected is the inspector, hot in pursuit of the women. Meanwhile, they learn there is only one hope and cure -- but the antidote is found only in a sacred cactus that briefly flowers only every hundred years, and they only have four days to find it.
       As expected, their quest brings new threats and dangers -- and new revelations, including finally solving the mystery of who Albina is and her origin-story.
       Albina and the Dog-Men zips along, with quick and often drastic jumps. It is full of often wild fantasy, yet even as many of the scenes are closer to hallucinatory than realism, Jodorowsky grounds his tale firmly enough that all the absurdity is, on its own level, convincing. Beyond that, what he imagines is often so striking (and startling) that its unreality hardly matters.
       Jodorowsky is a wonderful fantasy-writer. Many of the details and episodes he imagines here are stunning, even as many are presented almost casually aside. This is a book full of memorable animal-imagery put to good use -- not just the dog-men, but parrots, bees, crabs, an armadillo, and more. It's also a quite exciting adventure-tale -- with many of the episodes also having an often very humorous side to them (such as the beautiful surreality around Amado's suicide attempt).
       Albina and the Dog-Men does eventually have a bit of difficulty keeping up with its increasingly grander ambitions, Jodorowsky making (a lot) more of Albina than originally seemed possible. While even this is very good, it feels a bit forced -- especially in comparison to the remarkably naturally-flowing earlier parts -- and shows the strains of trying to make too much out of the story.
       Still, Albina and the Dog-Men is a remarkable and very enjoyable adult fantasy tale, full of the in every way unexpected, deftly turned and twisted and imagined by Jodorowsky. (Note also that it is sexually quite explicit -- though this is an entirely appropriate (if also very raw) eroticism.)

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 May 2016

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Albina and the Dog-Men: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Chilean filmmaker and author Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in 1929.

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© 2016-2022 the complete review

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