Words the Dog Knows
By J.R. Carpenter
Published by Conundrum

J. R. Carpenter’s long-awaited first novel Words the Dog Knows follows the paths of a quirky cast of characters through the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. Simone couldn’t wait to get out of rural Nova Scotia. In Montreal she buries her head in books about far off places. Her best friend Julie gets her a job in the corporate world. Travelling for business cures Simone of her restlessness. One summer Julie’s dog Mingus introduces Simone to Theo. They move in together. Theo is a man of few words. Until he and Simone get a dog, that is. They set about training Isaac the Wonder Dog to: sit, come, stay. Meanwhile, he has fifty girlfriends to keep track of and a master plan for the rearrangement of every stick in every alleyway in Mile End. He introduces Theo and Simone to their neighbours. He trains them to see the jumbled intimacy of Mile End’s back alleyways with the immediacy of a dog’s-eye-view.

Carpenter writes with humour and directness, melding the emotional precision of her award-winning short fiction with the narrative ingenuity of her pioneering works in electronic literature.  The result is a fresh and accessible first novel written and illustrated in the vernacular of the neighbourhood where cooking smells, noisy neighbours and laundry lines criss-cross the alleyway one sentence at a time. Words the Dog Knows is a story because of a dog. Walking though the same back alleyways day after day, Theo and Simone come to see their neighbourhood — and each other — in a whole new way.


Title: Words the Dog Knows
Author: J.R. Carpenter
Publisher: Conundrum