February 27, 2019

Books with talking animals as characters that are written for adults.

I went looking for this because, in the comments to a post about Meade saying he found Kirsten Gillibrand "rabbity," Bob Boyd said, "Meade's right and it occurs to me, if Gillibrand gets the nomination, Althouse may finally be forced to read 'Watership Down.'"

I reacted, "When's the last time I read a book with animals for characters? I did contemplate rereading 'Animal Farm,' but that aside, unless I was reading with a child, I can't picture it happening.... And I mean talking animals that are the main characters, not stuff like a guy goes looking for his lost cat (which I did read recently — 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle')."

So I easily found this list of 11 quite respectable books written for adults and featuring talking animals. #1 is the one I thought of on my own, "Animal Farm."

There's also Mikhail Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" — with a "hog-sized talking cat... who sneers and snickers and entertains the Devil, pistol in paw, as they wreak havoc in Bulgakov’s Moscow." "Maus," which I have read. And "Kafka on the Shore," by the author of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," Haruki Murakami:
It’s not that the cats in this novel can talk to just anyone; it’s that Nakata can talk to them—though that’s not to say they always entertain him, or that he can always understand them, not when they’re telling him things like “it’s a tuna, to the very end” and “Kawara’s shouting tied.” Or, let’s put it this way: some cats are more intelligible than others. 
"Kafka on the Shore" has been on my list of books I'm going to read soon, so I have to withdraw my snooty response to Bob Boyd. But I'm no more ashamed of being snooty than a cat is, and I'm never going to read that "Watership Down" thing.

110 comments:

Martin said...

A horse is a horse,
of course, of course...

Kay said...

Omaha the Cat Dancer.

walter said...

"for for adults"?

mccullough said...

Luckily they made Watership Down into a movie. So no one needs to read it.

Rob said...

My favorite Twitter account is Thoughts of Dog (@dog_feelings).

chuck said...

Lots of fantasy with talking swords. Does that count?

LordSomber said...

La Plan├Ęte des Singes

gahrie said...

I first read Watership Down when I was 11 years old. I've read it several times since. The movie is not as good as the book.

oleh said...

Master and Margarita is a masterpiece.

Big Mike said...

But I'm no more ashamed of being snooty than a cat is

You were a professor; snooty is part of the job description.

Two-eyed Jack said...

I liked Faithful Ruslan, the story of a Gulag guard dog fending for itself when Khrushchev shut down the camps.

gahrie said...

The book Planet of the Apes is very different from either movie series.

Nonapod said...

Talking animals for adults? For a second there I fear you might have been discussing Furries (If you don't know what a "furry" is, I recommend not Googling it. Sometimes it's better not to know something)

Bob Boyd said...

Call of the Wild
IIRC the main character is Buck, a dog. He doesn't talk as such, but we're made privy to his thoughts, motives, etc. There are "good guy" and "bad guy" dog characters. It's been a long, long time since I read it.

dbp said...

I wonder about the omission of Jonathan Livingston Seagull from the list.

1. It is a list of 11, so why not 12?

2. It likely sold more than all but 1984 and The Bible.

3. It is childish, but I don't think it was really written for children.

4. It is a silly book, but it moves right along and if nothing else, is a real glimpse into a major vein of 1970's mind set.

Bob Boyd said...

Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
The characters are cockroach who writes free-verse poetry and a hard-living, free-loving female alley cat.

Fernandinande said...

I first read Watership Down when I was 11 years old. I've read it several times since.

Great read, very creative, unique.

respectable books, "free with any $600 purchase of quality science fiction."

Dan in Philly said...

Canterbury Tales has talking animals in one of it's stories, certainly an adult book.

chuck said...

> Master and Margarita is a masterpiece.

"You're not Dostoevsky," said the citizeness, who was getting muddled by Koroviev.
"Well, who knows, who knows," he replied.
"Dostoevsky's dead," said the citizeness, but somehow not very confidently.
"I protest!" Behemoth exclaimed hotly. "Dostoevsky is immortal!"

SDaly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oso Negro said...

I am shocked if Althouse has not read The Master and Margarita. If this is true, have Meade burn your Tom Wolfe, and trot down to the bookstore and get you a copy. Goodness! I will even buy it for you through your own Amazon portal if I can figure out where to send it. Now that right there would be something for you to blog about

SDaly said...

There is a serpent that speaks in the Old Testament, and a donkey that speaks in the New Testament.

Laslo Spatula said...

"I wonder about the omission of Jonathan Livingston Seagull from the list.... 4. It is a silly book, but it moves right along and if nothing else, is a real glimpse into a major vein of 1970's mind set."

And THEN you get the movie, which THEN gets you the Neil Diamond album.

Sometimes the Seventies got the mix of Vacuousness and Paranoia just right.

I am Laslo.

Christopher Smith said...

Try "I am a Cat" by Natsume Soseki. A Japanese classic satirical novel about a cat who lives in the garden of a pompous schoolteacher and points out all the contradictions inherent in society. It's a century old, but still quite funny in places.

Ficta said...

Ursula Le Guin's short piece "On Serious Literature" comes to mind.

Menahem Globus said...

'A Boy and His Dog' by Harlan Ellison may be worth looking at. Ellison was a complete and total loon. He was one of the great creative lunatics of the last century so he may be appealing to Althouse on that level. The same type of mad genius that seems to be a focus of so many of her posts. In fact here's an excerpt from an LA Times story describing an assault on his editor:

Ellison was upset about one of the books the publisher had recently reissued: His 1961 rock 'n' roll novel "Spider Kiss" had mistakenly been labeled science fiction, which he knew would be misleading to readers. There had been an acrimonious exchange about it -- but only by mail. In person, Ellison says, his publisher "didn't know me from a pissoir."

"I put him in a hold that I had learned from Bruce Lee. I took him to his knees. Then I duck-walked him back to his door," on his knees all the way, Ellison recounts. The typing pool, all women then, stopped work and watched the show, he says, "with enormous pleasure."

When they got back to the man's office, the publisher on his knees, Ellison says he banged the man's head into the door until he opened it. They went inside -- the publisher, Ellison and Ellison's editor, a woman he remembers fondly, who soon was huddling on a couch.

"I picked up a chair and threw it," Ellison says. Rather than shattering the windows, "it bounced around the room." The publisher had scrambled behind his desk and was dialing the phone.

"I jumped onto the desk and ripped the phone out of the wall," Ellison says. Back in 1982, that's how phones worked -- they had cords, attached to walls. "He tried to crawl through the desk's kneehole. I grabbed him by the collar and threw him across the room."

It was then that his editor's condition -- "crunched in a fetal position in horror" -- started to get through to him. "I realized, 'My god, you've gone mad,'" he says. He thought of the Tombs, New York City's notorious detention center. "I've been in jail -- I don't like jail," Ellison thought. He followed his quick-thinking editor, who headed for the freight elevator. "We ran for our lives."

And then Ellison went to the video taping with Studs Terkel and Isaac Asimov and Gene Wolfe and Calvin Trillin. "I loved Studs," he said when I reached him by phone. "I had a wonderful day."

CJinPA said...

My dad took me and my buddies to see the film version of Watership Down as kids. It was not well received. Those rabbits weren't funny AT ALL.

Carter Wood said...

Metamorphosis.

"“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic beetle."

Leland said...

Talking animal books for adults is better than the coloring books; as the former at least requires one to be literate.

gilbar said...

Well, it's not really a novel (more of a history: well, a Translation of a history); But it isn't for Kids

JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
Talking Eagles
Talking Trees
Talking Spiders (well, the Talking spiders were in The Hobbit)
No Horses that talked Common Speech, but several that understood it clear as day

Michael K said...

I read "Watership Down" to my children when they were young. When they were teens, I was able to show them the real Watership Down in Hampshire.

His novel was based on real rabbit behavior as described in "The Private Life of the Rabbit"

tcrosse said...

There were six Francis the Talking Mule movies, which were quite successful for Donald O'Connor.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wonder about the omission of Jonathan Livingston Seagull from the list."

I threw the word "respectable" in there for a reason.

Also, don't tell me about movies and TV shows.

Carter Wood said "Metamorphosis." I thought about that. Especially with Kafka in that Murakami title. The character in "Metamorphosis" is a man, isn't he? He's just found himself in the shape of an insect, and I couldn't remember if he was able to speak or if we were just reading his thoughts. I believe — correct me if I'm wrong — that he thinks he's speaking but he is only making unintelligible insect noises and must face the reality that he cannot communicate. That makes it as far from a talking animal story as you can get, because he's not a nonhuman animal AND he's not speaking.

Yancey Ward said...

I read Watership Down because it is mentioned in Stephen King's The Stand, which I read when I was 13. In the novel, a character says he read the book because he thought it was about ships and sailors and was stunned to find out it was about rabbits.

I loved Watership Down.

Annie C. said...

One of my favorite books was, and probably still is, Black Beauty. It made an enormous impression during the Victorian era in animal welfare. There was another book about a dog during the same period that I can't recall.

If you get a chance, read it. It only takes an afternoon, but learning about how fashion caused so much mistreatment of animals is powerful.

Long ago, everyone had horses and only the rich had cars. Now everyone has cars and only the rich have horses.

daskol said...

Timbuktu by Paul Auster features a dog with a very rich internal life--the book is the dog's internal monologue. My kids would hate it, but it's entertaining for an adult.

mockturtle said...
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James K said...

he's not a nonhuman animal AND he's not speaking.

I agree he's not speaking, which I recall adds to his frustration and gloom. But I think the premise is that he really did 'metamorphose' into a giant cockroach, which is why he can't speak (though evidently he can think like a human).

I also liked Watership Down. It's been a long time, but I think it is really for adults, though probably kids can enjoy it on some level.

Clyde said...

C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia featured numerous talking animals, although it's usually classified as children's literature.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am shocked if Althouse has not read The Master and Margarita. If this is true, have Meade burn your Tom Wolfe, and trot down to the bookstore and get you a copy. Goodness! I will even buy it for you through your own Amazon portal if I can figure out where to send it. Now that right there would be something for you to blog about."

It's impossible to read all the things you "should have" read and an annoying way to think about reading. I had a career that involved reading things that I had to read, and I greatly enjoy my freedom from obligation.

rehajm said...

You people are too serious....

The Complete Far Side

M Jordan said...

I taught "Animal Farm" in Animal Farm ... Lithuania, in particular, the entire post-Soviet world in general. I intro-ed the book by saying just that, a somewhat dangerous statement for several reasons (1. It was banned up until the 1990's, 2. It could be interpreted as an insulting term).

Each day after lecturing/discussing the day's reading, students would come to my after class and tell me tales of what their grannies would tell them about Lenin, etc. They opened up a whole new level of understanding for me on the novel. Orwell did his homework. He also wrote a near perfect allegory in which every single character, incident, setting item, etc. has a symbolic level of interpretation.

I consider "Animal Farm" the superior to "1984" simply because it is so much more accessible. It is a literary masterpiece.

James K said...

From the link, re the Bible: "I heard there was a talking snake in this one."

There's also a talking donkey.

Lewis Wetzel said...

But people are talking animals.

M Jordan said...

My favorite talking animal story: Genesis 3. The serpent, working as a proxy for Satan, begins humanity's descent into chaos by trying to switch the narrative: "Has God really said?"

Lewis Wetzel said...

Animal Farm isn't about animals. The farm is the USSR, Napolean is Stalin, Snowball is Trotsky, the dogs are the NKVD, Boxer represents the workers.

Nancy said...

The talking donkey is in the OT aka the Hebrew Bible. Numbers 22:28.

buwaya said...

"C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia featured numerous talking animals, although it's usually classified as children's literature."

It is childrens literature, for bright children. Its a curious thing that speaks in a childish sensibility (Santa Claus figures in it, sorry, spoiler) with a profundity that most children aren't ready for. And the language, sadly, can be above modern childrens heads.

Do aliens count? Lewis' Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, etc.).

Quaestor said...

Watership Down is rather different than the other works cited for their speaking animals. In the others, especially Maus and Animal Farmer, the animal characters are stand-ins for human stereotypes. I think Richard Adams tried to show us real animals with real animal behavior explained in terms of fictional animal consciousness.

buwaya said...

"Or, let’s put it this way: some cats are more intelligible than others."

All cats are simple souls. We often aren't simple enough to get that.

Henry said...

A Boy and his Dog

Movie version is on youtube

Carter Wood said...

I think Gregor can speak at the beginning, but perhaps not. It's open to interpretation.

He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to seven. There was a cautious knock at the door near his head. "Gregor", somebody called - it was his mother - "it's quarter to seven. Didn't you want to go somewhere?" That gentle voice! Gregor was shocked when he heard his own voice answering, it could hardly be recognised as the voice he had had before. As if from deep inside him, there was a painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with it, the words could be made out at first but then there was a sort of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure whether he had heard properly or not. Gregor had wanted to give a full answer and explain everything, but in the circumstances contented himself with saying: "Yes, mother, yes, thank-you, I'm getting up now." The change in Gregor's voice probably could not be noticed outside through the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with this explanation and shuffled away. But this short conversation made the other members of the family aware that Gregor, against their expectations was still at home, and soon his father came knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but with his fist. "Gregor, Gregor", he called, "what's wrong?" And after a short while he called again with a warning deepness in his voice: "Gregor! Gregor!" At the other side door his sister came plaintively: "Gregor? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?" Gregor answered to both sides: "I'm ready, now", making an effort to remove all the strangeness from his voice by enunciating very carefully and putting long pauses between each, individual word. His father went back to his breakfast, but his sister whispered: "Gregor, open the door, I beg of you." Gregor, however, had no thought of opening the door, and instead congratulated himself for his cautious habit, acquired from his travelling, of locking all doors at night even when he was at home.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

"So long, and thanks for all the fish!"

Scott M said...

Watership Down has been one of my all-time favorites in a very well-read life. I believe the reason for this is the complete unhinging of their world from ours. Humans, to them, are elemental. We just are. Their myths, their terms, their lives, are rabbit-centric.

Besides, as good as Watership Down is...Traveller is even better. But that's coming from an unrepentant Civil War buff.

Scott M said...

mccullough said...
Luckily they made Watership Down into a movie. So no one needs to read it.


The movie was meh. The new Netflix effort, though, in series form, is far better.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Let's not forget the early "Tarzan" books, where Burroughs gave the great apes a human-learnable and at least somewhat consistent language (I mean, he wasn't Tolkein..). I think my father wrote a paper on it once, or was thinking about it -- he used to have note cards with the vocabulary.

Later books moved Tarzan out of that setting.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Of course lots of adult fantasy has talking animals of one sort or another. Dragons are big now. Lots of SF has "uplifted" animals:

"She got the which of the what-she-did
Hid the bell with a blot, she did
But she fell in love with a hominid
Where is the which of the what-she-did ? "

wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James K said...

OK, I stand corrected on the speaking in "Metamorphosis." It's been 35+ years. Maybe over time he loses the ability to speak? I'll have to reread it.

Scott M said...

Of course lots of adult fantasy has talking animals of one sort or another. Dragons are big now. Lots of SF has "uplifted" animals:

Technically, all books with human characters, in any genre, has talking animals in it. :)

Yancey Ward said...

Quaestor wrote:

"I think Richard Adams tried to show us real animals with real animal behavior explained in terms of fictional animal consciousness."

Exactly this. It has been almost 40 years since I have read it, but it still sticks in my mind the description of the rabbits' internal experience of riding on a boat- Adams made it seem alien to the reader, and that is no small feat.

Yancey Ward said...

And even today, I regularly use the word "tharn" to describe ball shriveling terror.

Andrew said...

One book not yet mentioned: The Plague Dogs. It was written by Richard Adams but overshadowed by Watership Down. I read it as a teenager and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would certainly call it an adult book, just like its predecessor.

Richard Dillman said...

Netflix recently produced a very good animated version of “Watership Down.” It was released around 12/23/18. There are also
many talking animals in “The Canterbury Tales.” See the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, for example. Animals are great for allegories.
See the medievall debate “The Owl and the Nightingale” for a vigorous debate argued by animals.

Lurker21 said...

Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, Bambi, White Fang, The Call of the Wild, Cujo

Churchy LaFemme: said...

While certainly adults can enjoy Charlotte's Web and The Wind in the Willows, I wouldn't call them adult books.

I've never read the book Bambi, the movie was certainly kid friendly (except, you know, the bit about Bambi's mother..). Can't comment on the others.

Michael K said...

White Fang, The Call of the Wild

In both of these, the author Jack London, was voicing his impression their thoughts.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Heart of a Dog, by Bulgakov, about a homeless bum who gets taken in by a mad surgeon who exchanges his heart for a dog's heart. The homeless bum then advances to the top of the communist party. His only flaw is an irresistible urge to chase cats. Hilarious writing.

Lavonne said...
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rhhardin said...

Animals talk all the time.

Koot Katmandu said...

Well I actually like watership down. I was probably still in my 20s when I read it so barely an adult.

Bilwick said...

"I'm never going to read that "Watership Down" thing." Your loss. Too libertarian for you?

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Being an Orwell fan, I long wanted to read Animal Farm, but the idea of talking animals put me off. I read the first page or two and decided I'd better try listening to it instead.

I'm glad I did. It actually worked great as an allegory, or fairy story, as he put it, but I needed time to get past the talking livestock, time that I might not have been patient enough to give if I'd had to read it the old-fashioned way.

M Jordan said...

Dr. Doolittle?

Ann Althouse said...

“"I'm never going to read that "Watership Down" thing." Your loss. Too libertarian for you?”

I had no idea of its politics. I just have the impression that it’s not very goid literarure and I am selective about fiction.

buwaya said...

I am the opposite of selective about fiction.
You can learn a lot from bad books. Its possible you can learn more from bad books than good ones. The fellow who is first with a smashing idea, and is eager to share it, is unlikely to have the skill or polish to turn it into literature. A couple of decades later someone much more capable may decide to rip it off (secondhand or thirdhand probably). 90% of lit is writers copying other writers.

An objectively bad piece of pulp, according to old-fashioned English-teacher standards, may work on quite another level, of original concepts. That's the old argument for science-fiction. That's why E.E.Smith and E.R.Burroughs, who wrote ripping yarns for geeky teenagers, matter.

Bilwick said...

"I had no idea of its politics. I just have the impression that it’s not very goid literarure and I am selective about fiction."

It pronbably isn't very good literature, by Academy standards. If you pay attention to the Academy, or what Leslie Fiedler called, as I recall, "The Priests of Literature."

Michael said...

Watership Down is terrific. It is an allegory in the manner of Animal Farm, but less overtly political. It's not Orwell, but what is?

buwaya said...

A bad book, indeed a "young adult" book, but worth reading -

"Hunger Games" - given me by my daughter.

Or perhaps you can watch the movie, I can't say the book is any better.

The concept is, perhaps, not entirely original in details, and quite a lot of its bits are quite ancient tropes (90% of literature), but the creative work is in its assembly into an allegory of modern US society, or an end state of modern trends. That speculation assembled into alternative frames of reference is what SF is about.

The frame in "Hunger Games" works amazingly well.

Nichevo said...

An objectively bad piece of pulp, according to old-fashioned English-teacher standards, may work on quite another level, of original concepts. That's the old argument for science-fiction. That's why E.E.Smith and E.R.Burroughs, who wrote ripping yarns for geeky teenagers, matter.


Smile when you say that, partner. Doc Smith is quintessential pulp. While his literary style was, for his day, jazzy if not downright punk rock, his grammar and syntax are in the modern era somewhere between impeccable and baroque.

Also on the sidebands of his written thoughts are a palimpsest of his own times. In First Lensman alone, from knowing political analysis to the New York commute, he brought a world with him. I still get a chuckle over all the Prussian types with their roached hair.

rcocean said...

I hated "Watership down". OTOH, Wind in the Willows in one of my favorite. Is Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland considered in the "talking animals" category?

rcocean said...

Watership Down is about Bunny rabbits - who are preyed on and many get killed. Its a downer - no pun indented

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Grand Central Arena is Ryk Spoor's combined homage to Doc Smith & Anime and is a lot of fun. He even borrows (with permission) Mark DuQuesne for a major role.

rcocean said...

I didn't find Watership down in the least "libertarian". Which isn't surprising since its set in England with some very English bunny rabbits.

Anytime someone says something is "libertarian" its just some "Libertarian" talking out of his ass - as usual. Usually, libertarians are high on drugs, so that probably accounts for it.

Nichevo said...

I think you'll agree with me, Buwaya, that the corpus of Ayn Rand constitutes good bad writing (I will except TF as a "whole" work of literature). "She writes brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly," but I always cringe at her "hamburger sandwich" in AS. We must remember that she was a Russian refugee, but I have to concede that she's no Conrad.

Again though you have to know more of how they acted and apoke in the time. Remember Bradbury's, or was it Leiber's, team of detectives sent to find and return the time escapee, who zero in on the protagonist by his manner of hitching or not hitching his trousers before sitting in accordance with the custom of the era to which he had fled from his world.

But Bradbury or Leiber would not appeal to Althouse, whose notions are de la boue. She thinks Franzen is art and Bradbury is not, Fritz Leiber is not, Piper is not.

Ayn Rand was so prophetic of our world that it doesnt matter if she was a good artistic writer. A Cassandra, like you. Doesn't Ellsworth Toohey's vision pervade the Left's every structure? No, shitepokes, The Fountainhead was a warning, not an instruction manual!

Nichevo said...

Unknown, will look. Still in search of a copy of Backstage Lensman.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Unknown, will look. Still in search of a copy of Backstage Lensman.

Here you go!

Gahrie said...

Piper is not.

He died way too soon. I have yet to read anything he wrote I didn't like.

So..speaking about talking "animals"..how about Weber's Treecats? Or Piper's Fuzzies?

Gabriel said...

@Ann:The character in "Metamorphosis" is a man, isn't he?

Same goes for Master and Margarita and Maus. The characters are not actually animals. Bahomet in Master and Margarita is a (fallen?) angel who has taken on the shape of a cat, and in Maus the characters are Art Spiegelman, his family and other humans drawn as animals.

The animals in Animal Farm are metaphors but are also intended to be animals. In Watership Down, the same. Children's literature, the animals in Wind in the Willows and Beatrix Potter's stories are animals, not humans in animal shape.

Skookum John said...

“Summerland” by Michael Chabon (“Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, “Yiddish Policeman’s Union”) is a long, complex novel written in a genre I would call magic-realist sports fiction, dealing with the most important baseball game ever played.

It features a talking werefox, a talking Bigfoot, and a coyote and raven who turn out to be avatars of the Devil himself, with verbal skills to match. There may have been other talking animals I don’t remember. It’s a challenging read with a very long list of characters, one of whom lent me the “Skookum John” moniker I use here to disguise my opinions from the Red Guards where I work.

It’s not really a kid’s book, although I read it aloud to my son over the course of six or eight months when he was in elementary school, and he remembers it well.

buwaya said...

Re Rand -

"I have to concede that she's no Conrad."

As we all have to.

"A Cassandra, like you. "

I am not worthy!

"team of detectives sent to find and return the time escapee"
There are several of these. I believe I recall the one you refer to. One of those things guaranteed to make me rack my brain about something read, oh, 40 years ago.

"She thinks Franzen is art and Bradbury is not, Fritz Leiber is not, Piper is not."

I'm not sure they are "art" in a certain sense. They were openly after the popular market, all were mainly published in pulp magazines, not the Saturday Evening Post, etc. Theirs are the popular prints at the supermarket, not the paintings at the downtown auctioneers.

Bradbury was ornate. I tried reading "The Martian Chronicles" to the kids, and it just doesn't work. Too self-consciously writerly. Bradbury wanted to go downtown. Leiber was the best of pure pulp, weird, fast moving, funny. Robert E. Howard with a yuck or two on every page. Piper was creative but functional. Piper is another one of those people who was ripped off often since.

buwaya said...

One with more pretensions to "art", who was ripping off Piper, also with more politics aforethought - Ursula Le Guin.

buwaya said...

There is a talking crocodile, of a sort, in my own novel, but there would be, no?
Not one of the good guys.
Still in the process of learning to write a novel unfortunately.
I've been banging away at this since 2015.

Lawrence Person said...

Then I guess you'll never read Duncton Wood (Watership Down with moles), or The Cockroaches of Staymore (guess).

The dog starts talking partway through Jonathan Carroll's The Land of Laughs (it's an important turning point).

And the giant spiders talk in The Hobbit.

Lawrence Person said...

Ray Bradbury was, in fact, published in The Saturday Evening Post.

BudBrown said...

I'm late, I'm late. I'm late
Late for an important date
No time to say hello goodbye
I'm Late I'm late I'm late

Sydney said...

Lives of the Monster Dogs

Leora said...

Rita Mae Brown who has written a few books I admire has talking animals in her two mystery series. The fox hunting series talking animals can be dealt with but the dog and cat who solve mysteries are too much for me. The books of hers I like are about the fictional town of Runnymeade on the Mason Dixon line, her historical fiction and her book about women's tennis.

I was just thinking of re-reading The Master and Margherita - I liked it a lot about 40 years ago.

SF said...

Unknown: Wow, never expected to see the Ballad of Lost C'Mell quoted here! I need to reread a bunch of Smith, been too long. Along those lines, maybe also the Island of Dr Moreau, which I'm shamed to say I've never read?

I had been planning on citing Simak's City (mostly told from the point of view of dogs made intelligent) and Brin's Startide Rising (the adventures of the first starship with a primarily dolphin crew). Umbrella Academy as well, now that I think of it, with Dr Pogo.

Grant said...

The talking animal book I remember best is “The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr” by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Hardly anybody reads German Romantic fiction any more, I guess, but Murr is an actual talking cat (with a talking poodle friend), and the shtick is that the pages of Murr’s autobiography are somehow interspersed with those of a biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler—who turns out to be a pretty important figure for German music, as Schumann wrote him into several compositions. I’m not usually much for surrealism or magical realism or what have you, but Murr won me over. It’s a very strange and intriguing book.

DavidD said...

I remember reading Cujo a long time ago.

The dog didn’t talk but Stephen King got you inside the dog’s head.

alanc709 said...

Oh, lovely. Now I have to re-read "The Ballad Of Lost C-Mell" again. One of the all time great scifi stories. Cordwainer Smith wrote some wonderful stories. Plus, he was in real-life a renowned expert in psych ops, one of the founders of that, actually.

Menahem Globus said...

Just saw the reference to 'City' by Simak. I read that a few months ago. My first exposure to his work. Hard to believe he isn't better known.

If you want a typing dog there is Einstein in Dean Koontz 'Watchers'.

mikee said...

I have called a friend of mine "girly girl" for decades, and one day she's gonna find out its source in The Ballad of Lost C-Mell, and I'm gonna get whomped. One of the best SciFi stories ever.

mikee said...

Saki's short story Tobermory details exactly what happens when animals can talk with adults.

Bilwick said...

"Ayn Rand was so prophetic of our world that it doesnt matter if she was a good artistic writer." Amen to the first part. I remember when "liberals" would criticize her for potraying them as one-dimensional caricatures;* yet if you look at today's "liberals" (by which I mean of course "tax-happy, coercion-addicted, power-tripping State fellators"), they make the villains in Rand's books look like sane, everyday folks.

As for her being a goof artistic writer, that depends on your criteria for "good" and "artistic." She set forth her criteria in THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO, and as far as I can see, she followed them. If you go by the standards of the Academy (Fiedler's "High Priests of Literature"), not so much.


An exception maybe being Ellsworth Toohey, although Toohey wasn't technically a "liberal--he was too intelligent for hat--but someone for whom "liberals" were his useful idiots.

Henry said...

I read Watership Down as a kid. Never felt like rereading it.

The Wind in the Willows is an odd book. Half of it is comic hijinks for the young reader, a quarter of it is a meditation on the natural world, and a quarter of it is a profound study of friendship. I keep a copy for that last part.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann, why do you want to say that you'll never read that book? It's like the time you said you'd never watch "A Man For All Seasons" because it's "middlebrow."

FWIW, I read "Watership Down" in my early teens, and liked it very much.

To whoever posted this above, re: CS Lewis's "space trilogy," I agree. The hrossa and the seroni are talking animals, in the sense that humans alone aren't animals. But it's only "Out of the Silent Planet" that has them.

rcocean said...

Its staunchest advocate was, however, an important one. Theodore Roosevelt, then US president, wrote to Grahame in 1909 to tell him that he had "read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends". Roosevelt eventually persuaded US publisher Scribner to take it on. Another fan was AA Milne, who adapted it into the play Toad of Toad Hall, and wrote in an introduction to an edition of the novel that "one does not argue about The Wind in the Willows". "The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly," said Milne. "The book is a test of character."

SF said...

Menahem Globus, my impression growing up was that Simak was considered a fairly big name (in SF) pre-new-wave, but his gentle, thoughtful style has fallen very out of favor these days. IMO City and Way Station are both classics.