A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A slim, tight story that gives so much more than it suggests, A Dog So Small always feels rather Tardis like to me. I have written before on the thick, luscious stylistics of Pearce’s writing; the summer heat of Minnow on The Say and the charming, charming grace of her style is something that I will always come to. She is one of those writers who is both vividly British to me and deeply evocative in how she captures that endless space of potential that is the Summer holidays in the countryside. (I return, endlessly, to Summer when I think of Pearce, and I think of days that do not end with darkness, and light that beckons at the window and promises of adventure).
A Dog So Small is a dance between London and Cambridge; the story of a boy who quite simply wants a dog. He is desperate for a dog, in that way that we all have been desperate for something at some point in our lives, and he does, eventually, acquire a dog. It is a dog of imagination; something he sees in his mind, something – someone – that he makes happen and live; and this is both good and bad, really, in equal measure. Good, because it fills that desperate ache inside of him but bad, too, because of how it affects him. Sometimes the imaginary world is comfier, safer, than the real.
Dogs. Longing. Hope. Heartbreak. Family. And wickedly beautiful asides that capture character in mere seconds: “Ben was outpaced by a man in a bowler hat and dark suit, carrying a briefcase. He had walked from Tooting and was going to his office in the City, where he liked to be at his desk by half past eight in the morning. He did this every morning – he was not a married man.”
Richness, really, richness.