The unnamed narrator of Meg Rosoff’s What I Was is an old man, 100 years old, telling the story of the happiest time in his life, when he was a teenager in the mid 1960s, attending a horrid boarding school near the ocean in the eastern U.K. It’s not that the school is so wonderful, it’s the friend he makes, Finn, who lives in a shack by the ocean, fishes for meals, gathers wood, and does odd jobs in town for the little money needed to survive. The narrator (some refer to him as H) is drawn to Finn, wishes he could live this simple lifestyle, free from interfering parents, boring classes, and cruel classmates. H is obsessed with Finn, wishes he could spend his time with Finn in the little beach cottage, or out on the sea. I liked the overall story, though I was turned off by H’s cruelty towards another classmate whose desire to be friends (perhaps more) with H, gets in the way of H’s desire to be friends (perhaps more) with Finn.
There Is No Dog is a story based on the premise that God is a none-too-bright young man (early 20s perhaps?), who was given Earth to create and care for after his gambling mother wins it in a poker game. Yes, God created Earth in 6 days, mainly because he’s lazy and couldn’t be bothered to put in more time and effort, making sure that He got things right. Now it’s up to his assistant, Mr. B, who does care about this little planet and its inhabitants (especially the whales), and is tasked with answering prayers. God’s name is Bob, and Bob has fallen head over heels in love with a mortal named Lucy, a lovely young woman who works at a zoo. When Bob is moody, the Earth suffers, in the form of torrential rain, thunder, tsunamis, etc. Mr. B advises against Bob’s pursuing of Lucy, since in the past, things never end well for the human in these affairs, once Bob has had his way with them and lost interest. This story wasn’t without charm of its own. I liked Lucy OK, and I liked Bob’s pet, the last remaining Eck on Earth, a little penguin sort of creature who understands human speech and the concept of death, but who can only speak one word, ‘Eck’. I didn’t like There is No Dog as much as other Meg Rosoff stories that I’ve read. I felt like too much time was spent showing us what a loaf Bob was, and I felt like saying, “I GET IT…he’s a self-centered prig who seems incapable of growing up and being the least bit useful to his wonderful creations. Let’s move on.”