Michiko Kakutani--the New York Times' very famous, very harsh book critic--is not generally one for frivolity. Hence our surprise today at seeing her review of Andrew O'Hagan's ghostwritten "memoir" about the life of Marilyn Monroe's dog, Maf, written in the voice of Family Guy's talking cartoon pooch, Brian. Even more amazing is that Kakutani/Brian actually liked the book. A sampling of Kakutani/Brian's more noteworthy proclamations:
- "Brian the dog here. You know, the talking dog from Family Guy: best-selling author, actor, television writer, movie director, song-and-dance ace, civil rights crusader and, yes, animal companion."
- "Like me, Maf is a credit to his species. Like me, he refuses to demean himself by perpetuating the stereotypes of 'the good dog,' the obedient dog, the unthinking mammal. Like me, he's a cultured hound with a busy mental life: he knows his literature, his art history, his philosophy. And like me, he joins Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and Toto in elevating the canine reputation in as expeditious a fashion as possible."
- "I might also point out that Maf, again like me, is almost always the sanest, most reasonable voice in the room. I don't know why it's so often left to us dogs to put things in perspective--to see what’s obvious or just plain common sense. Why are humans so stupid? Why are they so blind, pigheaded and impervious? But I digress."
- "All of us talking dogs do a little intellectual name-dropping: it's because people tend to make the worst assumptions about us, treating us like dumb animals or second-class citizens or something."
- "Of course in the top-dog department, Maf doesn't come close to having my skills. He can't drive a car, he can't sing and dance, he hasn't attended college, and as far as I can tell, he's contributed exactly nada to the zeitgeist."
- "I, Brian Griffin, your best-selling competitor and colleague in the literary trenches, award you for your novel--er, memoir--a coveted three out of four paws up."
To compare to the tone of the text under review, see this excerpt from O'Hagan's book. This could be commentary. This could be caprice. This could be Kakutani's most devastating review yet. Your guess is as good as ours.