Sam Munson's Dog Symphony is a weird book ... It doesn't hide its weird, but it doesn't glorify it either with a lot of tricks or frippery ... There's no moment in it that's not weird. It is like Kafka that way. Its oddity is like a long, sustained hum, never varying in pitch or volume, that suffuses every page and every line ... Munson is trafficking in surrealism here. In a twisted kind of social satire that has things to say about authoritarianism, fascism, paranoia and man's animal nature ... Dog Symphony is not a novel so much as a mood given chapters and form ... Munson is a champion stylist here. He inhabits this world, making it all feel hot and lurid and lived-in and rank. He puts you there with a deliberateness belied by the slow pace and soft curves of the plot. But the place he has created is remarkable because it feels so unreal ... He captures precisely that sensation of being cut off from a reality that everyone else seems to understand but you.
Like all good fiction, there is a mystery at the invisible heart of Dog Symphony, and Munson’s elusive style forces you to read the lines as if scanning for clues. His obscure vocabulary itself begs scrutiny ... unfortunately — perhaps inevitably — Dog Symphony lacks the artistic originality of the Argentinian fiction it echoes, and feels rather like an amusing game the author is playing, an homage of sorts, a pastiche.
A whirling text which instinctively launches itself down the streets of Buenos Aires ... a bleak portrait of how humans operate--that we are trapped in our own animalistic natures in a world where to live is to shun individual truth.
In what might just be the strangest transmogrification of a writer in recent memory, Munson completely abandons the adolescent angst of his first two novels to enter the surreal literary landscape of South America ... [a] poetic, Byzantine short novel ... [the plot] hurtles toward an ambiguous, Kafka-esque denouement. Fans of Aira will find a curiously analogous style at work here, though whether it captures the Argentine writer’s humorous spark is questionable. For Munson, it’s a departure so abrupt that one wonders what inspired such a finely curated, grotesquely styled take on Argentine modernism ... An ambitious avant-garde experiment that might be generously read as homage.