Seth Harwood Signing

or Multiple Literary Uses for a Dead Dog

Seth Harwood, who I follow because the CrimeWav podcast he produces, commented on my Noir and Speculative Fiction post last week. Via twitter, he let me know about his signing today, so I headed out to Mysteries to Die For. Seth read a few passages and took questions. It was neat to hear people grapple with the podcast concept, and he offered some great insight on what he’d expected to get out of podcasting when he started and what he ended up getting (and still gets) out of it. (1)

The alternative title for this post is taken from one of the segments Seth read. After reading to us a scene where a dog is murdered, Seth made it very clear that he’s a dog lover and that Jack, the titular character, is also very much against abuse of animals. This whole fascination with the dead dog was particularly interesting to me, because I just started reading Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. A dog dies early in this book as well.

In Jack Wakes Up the dead dog gets used to establish a scale of coldheartedness as in “Murder’s one thing but killing a dog is just mean.” (2) In Wonder Boys the dog is blind, yet perceptive. He takes a bullet that was meant for one of the main characters, allowing for some sudden catastrophic character development. The body of the dog then becomes a physical representation of the unlikely friendship that will develop between our main characters. (3) I’ll have to read more to see if the dog fills any other roles in the text.

My fascination with dead dogs today is matched by my fascination with Seth, China and Michael appearing in multiple recent posts on this blog together. They provide a WIDE cross section of the publishing industry at the moment. I find it both depressing and empowering that Seth is funding his own book tour. The sales of his first book with be one of his biggest selling points when he attempts to sell the three other books in the series, yet it feels like something that a publisher should be fascilitating. I know a handful of writers read this blog. If your publisher didn’t pay for a book tour would you consider funding one yourself?

This post ended up in a very different place than I expected it to. Must get back to the actual reading.


I’d already picked up a signed copy of Jack Wakes Up when I was at Mysterious Galaxy last month, so I picked up a copy of The City and The City by China Mieville. They wrapped the dust jacket in a plastic cover which was a spectacular extra touch.

  1. Note to self: Get Dad one of those recorders Seth had. Seth if you read this, could you remind me what the model was? I’ll listen back through Crimewav and figure it out if I don’t hear from you.
  2. Not an actual quote from anything that I’m aware of.
  3. I’ve seen the movie, but I’m reading the book because I want to wrap my mind around literary fiction and I figured starting with a story I know I like about a subject (3) that I like was a good place to start.
  4. writing.
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~ by mentatjack on July 11, 2009.

One Response to “Seth Harwood Signing”

  1. […] Wonder Boys is a great introduction to Michael Chabon. I have both The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union in my to read pile, but I started the weekend with a strong urge for some literary fiction. You don’t get much more literary than a literary work about the trials of writing a literary work. I saw the movie many moons ago and, as I am wont to do, I chatted a bit about the novel in an earlier post. […]

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