Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

Bob's existence, like that of most teens, is a simmering stew of hormones, mood swings, mad lust and equally mad love. He is gainfully employed, as the creator and deity of our planet, so that's something. But he only got the job because his mother (Mona, kind of a party girl) won it in a celestial poker game. Having a steady job and some responsibility was supposed to help him to mature. Unfortunately, Bob is eternally a teen--hence the hormones and mood swings--and after the initial days of creation, during which he grooved on making weird things like the platypus and ended by creating man in his own image, Bob kind of sat back, rested on his laurels, then lapsed into a typical teenage funk. He'd fall in love with a mortal woman, there'd be floods and drought and famine, he'd have her with her consent or without it (remember Leda's swan? Europa's bull? yeah, that was Bob), and for a time things would go swimmingly.

Mr. B.--a quiet, competent bureaucrat--is Bob's assistant. Mr. B. is in charge of getting Bob back on track when he's gone too far off. Usually he takes care of the prayer detail, as well. He answers them when he can, doesn't when to do so would have too many repercussions. Mr. B. is responsible, and Bob really can't be bothered. But on a beautiful spring day, just as Bob has once again sworn off love, he overhears a prayer. "'Dear God,'" Lucy prays, "'I should like to fall in love.'" And, "transported by her loveliness" Bob decides to answer her prayer himself.

No good can come of this decision, and no good does come of it. There's rain enough to float the zoo where Lucy works as an assistant keeper. There are ice storms in England in July, drought in Africa, and any manner of other meteorological disasters at home and abroad. When Bob and Lucy get together, the sun shines, the ice melts, flowers burst into bloom. When he's not with her, there are tsunamis and earthquakes.

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff is a lovely, funny, clever novel. The characters, though drawn, for the most part, with just a few strokes, are yet believable. Lucy is a beautiful young woman unaware of her charms. Mr. B. is just the right mix of efficient and wry. Rosoff's descriptions of the natural world (including Bob's many disasters) are rich and tasty. And the ending is a delight, with comeuppances distributed among those deserving and love to the rest.