A Dog’s View of Love, Life and Death by J.R. Archer is a multi-layered book that on its surface is a collection of stories of man’s best friend and how we interact with our canine companions. Below the surface is a complex dissection of the roles animals play in our lives and us in theirs, coupled with philosophical and ethical questions that the reader will answer for themselves. There is the premise in the work that animals communicate telepathically, not only with each other, but with humans who may or may not realize it. The author is able to provide the “voices” of the animals in a way that makes sense, and the way the dogs communicate ranges from seemingly basic and instinctual to intellectually evolved. These are animals who are at once in our service but also portrayed as more advanced, and more at peace. The themes in A Dog’s View are heavy, and the reader should expect to run the full gamut of emotions during their journey. Evoking the deepest of existential quandaries through the eyes of our four-legged friends, J.R. Archer has crafted a tale that will be easily relatable while making you ask the tough questions.
The book is well-written and well-edited, and the characters are well-drawn. The humans in the book are at varying stages in their lives, and each is facing a conflict or personal struggle of some kind. The role that dogs play in their lives is different for each, but the dogs often take on the position of empathetic but removed observer, asking spiritual questions and pontificating on the motivations and fears of their “masters”. I put ‘masters’ in quotation marks because, as mentioned before, this is a book that will make you ask who the truly evolved life form is. The setting compliments the chaotic nature of the humans’ world, and Archer paints a New York City that is bustling and unforgiving. The stories move along at a quick pace and it was easy to get through several vignettes in a sitting. While the subject matter is tough, the book itself is very digestible. This is a book that will grab your attention, but refuses to hold your hand. While each characters’ story arc ends in a satisfying conclusion, the reader will find that many of the queries the book raises will have to be answered by the readers themselves. While this book will appeal most to animal-lovers, there is something in here for everyone, and A Dog’s View of Love, Life and Death is easily a 5-star read.