The Tale of A Dog

The Tale of A Dog

From the Diaries and Letters of a Texan Bankruptcy Judge


Caldwell lives by the lakeside at Austin, Texas, with his wife of thirty years, his two children having long ago flown the nest. He is a judge in the Federal Bankruptcy Court. And the dog? A mongrel that kept upsetting his dustbins as it rooted about in them, until the judge went after it and secretly beat its brains out with the edge-trimmers.

But this is not a crime story – for all that Caldwell’s lifelong mentor, the Dutchman van de Rouwers, Philosophy guru and idol of the American campuses, was fished out dead from the lake about the time his Murky Past caught up with him. No, this is a Philosophical Tale: weaving through the judge’s humdrum life between the Bench, the campus bookstore, the cocktail party circuit and his own kitchen, Great Metaphysical Questions are asked, about the reality of Good and Evil, ontological proofs of the existence of God, and the theoretical existence of the Most Intelligent Man in America.

Lars Gustafsson taps a rich vein of comedy in the series of contrasts here engendered between the mundane and the highflown as reported in the judge’s maybe fanciful narrative. The Tale of a Dog has marked affinity with his last novel, translated into English as A Tiler’s Afternoon, in the clearsighted dissection of small people trying to cope with an all too complex modern world.


  • A thoroughly convincing novel
    Allt om Böcker

About the author

Lars Gustafsson

Lars Gustafsson was born in Västerås, Sweden, in 1936. After taking a doctor’s degree at the University of Uppsala in 1962 he became editor of the leading literary periodical Bonniers Litterära Magasin. His publications reflect a broad range of interest and expertise, extending through philosophy, history, sociology and mathematics, as well as literary criticism, poetry, short stories and novels.

His fiction published by Harvill includes The Death of a Beekeeper, The Tale of a Dog, and A Tiler's Afternoon, which was shortlisted for the Dublin International Impac Award and was described by the Independent as ‘a beautifully conceived poetic allegory about an artist's life'.
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