Gangi finds a way in Carry the Dog to write a novel of ideas — not a favored American genre — that takes up critiques of visual culture within a very personal context: a novel about aging and coming to terms with childhood trauma ... By placing these conundrums inside the body of a 60-year-old woman experiencing a long-delayed coming of age, she speaks to the many women I know who are going through this transition ... When such a change is touched on in books or film, too often it’s a source of tragedy, even madness. Gangi, in refreshing contrast, argues that invisibility is freeing. Once Bea sides not with her observers but with her own self, she gains empathy for those around her. Photography presents a flat world to us; absent the dimension of time in which the events were occurring and absent the interior emotions of its subjects, any knowledge gained from a photograph will always make an object of the photographed. It is hard to really see yourself in a world built solely on what can be seen.
... magnificent ... captures the paralysis of the daily world so well that it’s a genuine surprise to realize that it’s set before the pandemic. Its inward-turning protagonist belongs so fully to the present moment that her presence a couple of years in the past is startling (though useful for plot purposes) ... a dark, utterly convincing exploration of family trauma and individual survival ... Within all of this turmoil and hesitation, Bea is deeply sympathetic. She’s narratively compelling. The book’s pages turn because Bea needs company, even the spectral company of a reader, while she tries to survive each encounter. She needs emotional backup, as so many people do, but so few characters reveal. In fact, Bea often feels so real that it’s easy to forget that Carry the Dog is fiction; it feels deeply real, like a true memoir from a slightly alternate world just beyond our reach.
For all her gracelessness and impulsivity, Bea is a difficult narrator to dislike; she carries her burdens, if not with dignity per se, then with charming determination ... Gangi’s erratic, fun, and touching novel is, in many ways, a story about change and what it looks like to embrace or reject its attendant discomforts. Bea finds herself in a new, post-menopausal body, in a world with more nuanced ways of understanding and processing grief and trauma ... the underlying ethos of the story that makes it so quietly captivating...Change is inevitable.