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Tell it to the dog

This is unlike any other book I have read.

Even the author, Robert Power, seems to be at a loss to adequately describe it, calling it 'a memoir of sorts'. It seems as if Power has spent his lifetime scribbling down his feelings, views, opions and responses to life as it whizzes by. The pieces of paper he'd have used may well have been small: sheets torn in a hurry from a notebook, beer coasters here and there, the back of a shopping list, because the segments are often short, just a few paragraphs. Yet taken together they start to build up an evolution of the philosophy of a man throughout his life, and paint a picture of how he began, and where he (metaphorically) has travelled.

It is obvious that Robert Power has led a busy life filled with humanitarian work, medical activities, writing and family life. The book progresses in a sort of sequence, beginning with childhood recollections, then people other than family appear: colleagues, people in need he has worked with, friends.

While, for want of another category, Tell it to the Dog is filed on this site under 'Travel Books', yet any reader can see it is not that, although in his working life Power has travelled extensively, and this too is explored.

While the book is dedicated to his three sons, it might as well be to Ralphie Dog to whom Robert Power often talks late at night: 'I lift up his leathery ear and I remind him of how we first met. That he was lost, just the way I was for so much of my life.'

He concludes his prologue with an explanation (of sorts) for the book's purpose. 'This book is part remembrance, part roaming. A retelling of what has happened, could have happened, of what might happen.'

Let's say it it the sort of book you can dip into for a few moments each evening, or read on and on because you are so entranced. Start at the end, the beginning or the middle. The language is lyrical and evocative. The emotions that Power raises are ones we all will have experienced at one time or another, yet the response and the lesson he has learned from them is his own.

Be glad that Ralphie Dog was not his only audience. It's a book that makes you want to buy a dozen copies to give to all your friends.

+++++

Tell it to the dog, by Robert Power, published by Transit Lounge, July 2017, rrp A$29.95, paperback, ISBN 9781 99535 9505. 

 

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

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