Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (2011)

Genre: Contemporary, Graphic Novel format
Interest level: Adult
Stargazing DogThis heartbreaking story opens with a punch – an abandoned car is found, with two bodies inside. One is a man who has been dead for about 18 months. The other is of a dog, dead only about three months. We then shift to the story of the dog, an adorably drawn little fellow named Happie. Happie is adopted as a puppy by Miko, the little girl who plays with him, by Mom, who always feeds him, and by Daddy, who always takes Happie for his walk. We witness Miko growing up and the parents growing apart, until the inevitable divorce. Happie helplessly watches his Daddy’s pain: “I think that was a lie, that ‘It’s not that I hate you’ crap. Then what the hell is this ‘Request for the division of property’?” The apartment is sold and the property divided. Daddy packs up the van, and he and Happie head off on a road trip to nowhere in particular. Pack a few tissues for this one – I cried on the bus as I finished this lovely novel that examines friendship, loyalty, and the all-too-human (and canine) desire for something more, blinding us to what we have. Takashi Murakami’s bestselling graphic novel, originally published in 2008, is translated by Atsuko Saisho and Spencer Fancutt for this North American edition. The art is simply drawn in black and white, leaving room for the reader’s imagination. The storyline is beautifully developed – I envisioned a figure eight symbol (or infinity, if you wish) as a couple of plots circle each other. I was fascinated by the depictions of life in Japan, though I puzzled over Daddy’s left-hand drive car (I am pretty sure they use right-hand drive in Japan; we have hundreds of these vehicles in Vancouver). It turns out the images were flipped, which is too bad, and fine example of how NOT to publish a Japanese graphic novel for the North American market.
More discussion and reviews of this graphic novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11557023-stargazing-dog

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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