Season of Stories: ‘My Humans’ by Lauren Holmes

I’ll admit that there are still a few Season of Stories installments from the Christmas period that are currently unread in my inbox, but of the stories I’ve read so far ‘My Humans’ has to be the weirdest. Written from the point of view of a dog, the narrative follows a human couple through mistrust, infidelity, and, eventually, the end of their relationship. There have been some stories in this initiative that have prompted me to buy the original collections they have been taken from; I have to say this was not one of them. It wasn’t the worst of the stories, but it wasn’t one I connected to.

There is no doubt that Holmes is clever in her use of language. Writing from the point of view of something that is not human is always a challenge since you need to use language that seems realistically not human: Holmes definitely does this well, using canine terms to express human actions and behaviours. In many ways, the narrative is more like a detective story, as the reader tries to ascertain exactly what is happening between Jenna and Mike from the clues given by the dog.

For all this cleverness of language, ‘My Humans’ just did not engage me at all. I think perhaps it reminded me too much of some of the exercises we used to do in Creative Writing classes at University: I felt as though I could see the thought process behind every word. The best stories are the ones which are so engaging that the reader almost forgets they are reading a story; by contrast I was very aware, in every part of ‘My Humans’, that this was a constructed narrative.

The installment format did work here to a certain extent. The tension is built over all four installments as the reader wonders at first what is happening between Jenna and Mike, and later whether they will be able to restore their relationship. However, I wonder whether the effect of the experimental point of view would be better suited to reading the story in one go rather than over the course of a few days.

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