Lives of the Monster Dogs is a surreal and melancholy first novel from 1998. A twisted young American named Augustus Rank develops a taste for vivisection and disturbing surgeries on animals. In the 1870s, rather than being jailed as a sociopath, he is taken in by a doctor. He migrates to Canada with a group of fanatical scientists yo fulfill his goal of creating a breed of super-dogs to use as an army. They work on his project for four generations – he is long dead when they finally perfect intelligent dogs, with human hands and voice synthesizers grafted on to them. The dogs revolt and kill their creators, then travel to New York City, where they become celebrities. They build an elaborate castle in the city, move into it, go insane, and die. (Believe it or not, this isn’t really spoiling the story, the main narrator makes most of this clear from very early on.)
The surreal and complex imagery, the themes of mental sickness and murder, evoke Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind.
Monster Dogs is a strange slide into oblivion for the dogs. One feels not only sadness for them, but also discomfort from empathizing with something so alien, and a tinge of relief that there is a ‘solution’ to them. Well worth reading.