A dog who travels through space and time by the power of his imagination!
Recently, I made my way into the children’s section of my local library branch. I wander in there every so often because, occasionally, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue finds its way in there for cut-and-paste collages, and so I must follow. It also makes me feel a bit like Godzilla when I step on children. But my interests were quickly turned elsewhere.
Prominently displayed upon a library shelf were a series of books about a dog who travels through space and time by the power of his imagination. I picked one up. Be a Wolf it read. I paused for a moment. And then, the realization finally struck at me: Beowulf! What followed in this book’s pages, was a retelling of the classic Anglo-Saxon poem of Beowulf, told as a modern English re-adaptation. I was enthralled from page one.
For those of you purists interested in the purity of its adaptation, you’d be happy to note that the text actually stays relatively true to the main Anglo-Saxon text of Beowulf (even incorporating occasional alliteration) with only a few notable departures here and there. One of which being that Beowulf was not a little dog named Wishbone who traveled through space and time having meaningful adventures by the power of his imagination that related back to his present day world in which his owner (or “master”), a young boy, must confront similar situations. As Wishbone fights off the evil Grendel, his nubile young boy companion must deal with the crotchety old Ms. Grindle in order to get his backpack back (which she confiscated) in order to do his homework. I have yet to finish this story, but I’m assuming (before long) he’s going to rip her arm off, and I simply can’t wait!
It seems Wishbone lives in a surreal world detached almost completely from reality. Among some of the odder moments of the book, he enters into a pizza parlor with his human companions, begging for scraps of pizza. In our world of modern-day reality, unless Wishbone is actually on the menu, this would constitute a fairly major health code violation.
I mention this because it also leads to another strange fact. Wishbone is an eating machine. Although the picture on the cover of the book, and the ones throughout its pages seem to imply that, somehow, he maintains his trim figure, Wishbone is, in fact, a perpetual eating machine. No doubt, he will inspire a generation of children to cater to their dogs’ continuous desire for food, facilitating a generation of exploding dogs. Simply imagine the scenario, dogs exploding into bits of kibble and snausage left and right.
Although I must admit that this would be an interesting and highly entertaining generation of exploding dogs, I mention this because it also leads to another strange fact, which also leads toward an even deeper literary allusion that only the most literate of readers would have picked up on: that Wishbone himself is clearly insane! Consider this passage from the text itself:
Then [Wishbone] lay down beside Joe’s chair and began to plan what he would do the next day. Saturdays were always fun! “Let me see: Wake up, stretch, check out the backyard to see what’s going on, go back inside, have some breakfast, play with Joe, nap, get up, have a snack, dig in Wanda’s yard, come home, have a snack, nap, get up, have lunch...” It would be a great day, he thought.
He sleeps and eats and digs and sleeps and wakes up for lunch... and not only that, he gleefully dreams and fantasizes about it! The only manner of escape for Wishbone now, is through an utter redefining of his personality. Suddenly, his fantasy life, derived mostly from books, has taken over, just as it had with that hidalgo de la Mancha Don Quijote. Of course, he imagines himself as Beowulf, the proud Geat warrior, in response to the monotony of his own dismal life. But how long will it be before Wishbone loses himself even further, imagining himself in increasingly disturbing roles such as that of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Hannibal Lecter, Hitler, Barney the purple dinosaur, or even Satan.
Otherwise, the story of Wishbone is a delightful romp through the deteriorating mind of a dog who is gradually losing his grip on sanity. Available wherever books about dogs who travel through space and time by the power of their imagination are sold.