Andrew O'Hagan's The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe received a major spread in a recent NY-Times book review:
"With his canine acquaintances, Maf debates Aristotle and Plutarch. He knows about all the great novels (and can cite their canine characters). He speaks with ease about art and film. And he’s a bit of a literary artist himself; his observations are often strikingly phrased."
Chip: "I hate when dogs put on airs."
Or perhaps you're more in the mood for a monkey's point-of-view. Consider The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, by Benjamin Hale, which gets an "A-" from Entertainment Weekly:
"Making your main character a talking ape — and one who engages in a romantic liaison with a human being, no less — is ambitious, to say the least. But from the first page, it is clear that Bruno is more than mere literary gimmickry; he is fascinating and fully formed...Since he's a defensive and unreliable narrator with an unorthodox sexual predilection, the easy comparison point for Bruno is Lolita's Humbert Humbert, but he calls to mind that book's author just as readily. "
Richard: "So this book DOES contain clever Nabokovian wordplay? Because it seems to need something more than just a horny ape to keep us serious-minded readers engaged."
Yes, EW cites this example: "When Bruno mishears the name of a famous linguist, he begins having terrifying visions of a toothy dwarf named Gnome Chompy."
Richard: "Hilarious. I will buy this book before the day is over."
And perhaps animal narration is poised to sweep the film world as well. Miranda July's new film, The Future, is narrated by a stray cat taken in by a thirty-something couple: "July herself voices that stray cat (in a high-pitched, childish voice), who's occasionally animated by halting puppetry." (NYMag).
Chip: "When this film opens at Liberty Hall, PLEASE do not invite me to see it. I tire quickly of whimsy."
But of course all these works are likely to be overshadowed by the new supernatural buzz-book of the season, Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches. Here's the plot summary:
"Diana has spent most of her life resisting the magic within her. The power she's long denied swirls to the forefront, however, when she opens a bewitched manuscript in Oxford's famous Bodleian Library. Suddenly every vampire, witch, and daemon — yes, they walk among us; we humans are just oblivious to their presence — is up in her grill, hungry for the secrets she's unknowingly unlocked." (EW).
Chip: "I like how this book reviewer speaks to me on my level, using phrases that I often use, such as 'up in her grill.'"
Entertainment Weekly offers a "B+," with this critique:
"Alas, there's a bit of bloat to the book. In a particularly saggy patch, Diana and Matthew loll around a French castle, checking e-mail and tracing each other's collarbones."
Personally, that was our favorite part.