Book Review: Go, Dog, Go! By P.D. Eastman

Emily Schell, 127 YinD

This frequently disjointed but never disappointing tale of urban mobility and the canine condition is woven around a painful series of brief but recurring interactions regarding headwear assessment, which serves to remind us of the underlying power external validation can hold over our personal growth, be we dogs in hats or otherwise. 

go-dog-goThe story begins sharply and without context.  We are promptly presented with our protagonist: dog.  In its most essential and true to nature form, its attention fleetingly but intensely directed toward the reader, as it proceeds about its roller skating.  Insinuations of minimalist philosophy already permeating the storyline, the unremarkable body is attired with a scant ensemble of collar, strap-on skates, and hat. In tribute to the moral principles of economic restraint and uniformity, this book enables the reader to clearly envision a society adequately served by a single model of automobile.  The theme of motion carries throughout the entire narrative to the shocking climax – always forward, never back.

The book is entirely devoid of metaphor, as it encourages us to accept at face value the world as it is. Inspired by the revered Zen masters of medieval Japan, the story goes on to unveil an unpredictable stream of unlikely but visually palpable scenarios revealing some of the most intimate moments of public and private life for a universally likable rainbow of dogs. Its verbiage is unassuming, pared down to the observable facts as it challenges us to remove all judgment and speculation from our own lives and fully express what appears before us, moment by moment.

A subtle yet scathing gender relations commentary emerges as the understated heroine, Pink Dog, displays unyielding determination to win the approval of her male counterpart, Yellow Dog, who in turn requires no such social endorsement for his own wellbeing.  The reader’s sympathy turns to vicarious embarrassment as her efforts progressively escalate, seemingly to no avail.  We are called to come face to face with the Pink Dog inside of all of us, invoking our own buried vulnerabilities to the surface of consciousness.  Written in an era before likes and shares, this timeless classic still manages to ring truer than ever in today’s world.

The story culminates in a completely unforeseen and indeed unimaginable capstone event celebrating diversity, inclusion, closeness with nature, and raw unbridled jubilation.  A gem before its time, this book will leave the reader grounded in their own truth and prepared to view the world through new eyes, over anew with every reading. 

4 ½ out of 5 stars

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