I don't know Englert's thinking as he planned the book, but, having decided to make an animal his narrator, he obviously then had to decide how this animal would communicate with the book's human characters. This is where readers who blanch at the thought of animal characters may start to roll their eyes, queasy with visions of cute dogs yelping and trying to pull their masters back from walking unknowingly into perilous situations.
Happily, Englert's book has none of that. A hilarious dog book would have been filled with such scenes. A sentimental dog book would have mused upon the beautiful ways dog and man communicate. Englert, however, recognizes that such communication is fraught with uncertainty, to say the least, and he makes such difficulties a large part of the book. In that respect, A Dog Among Diplomats is rather realistic for a story with a fantastic premise.
Faced with a problem, in other words, Englert decided not to solve it, but to make the problem into the substance of his story. What other clever, realistic solutions to thorny narrative problems come to mind? What other writers have taken what might have been a stumbling block and made it instead into an important part of the story?
© Peter Rozovsky 2008