Novelists Really Like Dogs Who Bark in the Distance


In an essay for Slate, Rosecrans Baldwin points out something you will never be able to un-notice: In almost all novels, there is a dog barking, somewhere, in the distance. Faulkner (“The fireflies drifted; somewhere a dog barked, mellow sad, faraway”), Tolstoy, Joyce, Woolf, Vonnegut, Robert Penn Warren, Roberto Bolaño (“A scent of flowers and wet grass drifted into the room. In the distance he heard a dog bark”), Peter Matthiessen, Dave Eggers, Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, Monica Ali, T.C. Boyle (“In two days he'd be back on the train to New Jersey. There was a dog barking somewhere”), Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King, Jackie Collins (“Somewhere a dog barked mournfully”), Jodi Picoult, and Charlaine Harris are just some of the authors who have used a variation on the phrase, “somewhere a dog barked.” It's too bad that novels do not lend themselves to supercuts, because this would make a great one. [Slate]