Albi­na and the Dog-Men

Ale­jan­dro Jodorowsky
  • Review
By – May 3, 2016

The hero­ine of Ale­jan­dro Jodorowsky’s sec­ond nov­el enters the sto­ry as a super­nat­u­ral­ly pro­por­tioned woman with the skills and instincts of an infant, a shell of a once-pow­er­ful god­dess. She appears out of nowhere, her­ald­ed by par­rots and pur­sued by fear­some monks from a for­eign land, col­lid­ing into the arms of an utter­ly unloved woman called Crab­by as though sum­moned by her mor­tal protector’s despair.

The daugh­ter of Lithuan­ian Jews, Crab­by arrived in Chile at two years old with her par­ents, Sarah and Abra­ham, who is a sev­en-foot-tall pro­fes­sion­al cal­lus remover who insist­ed on nam­ing his daugh­ter Isaac to ref­er­ence the Bib­li­cal coin­ci­dence of his wife’s name paired with his. Reject­ing both her giv­en name and the Torah in its entire­ty, Crab­by was raised instead on Paul Féval’s The Hunch­back and received her nick­name for the crus­tacean pos­ture she adopt­ed in her favorite character’s like­ness — and in accep­tance of the idea of being an aggres­sive crab sep­a­rat­ed from oth­ers by a hard shell.” Uncouth, ugly, and prone to fights with her peers, Crab­by was neglect­ed by her devout­ly reli­gious father until his death, where­upon she was sum­mar­i­ly kicked out of the house by her moth­er and imme­di­ate­ly appoint­ed step­fa­ther at the age of thir­teen, wan­der­ing the stretch of Chile north to Iquique, where she finds Albi­na in the mid­dle of a fierce storm.

Dis­cov­er­ing that Albi­na pos­sess­es the pow­er to hyp­no­tize scores of men at a time with the exhi­bi­tion of her tow­er­ing, pale body in dance, the two women set up an ille­gal busi­ness of night­ly per­for­mances that send the entire male pop­u­la­tion of the town and its seaborne vis­i­tors into a mass stu­por whet­ted by home-brewed mis­tela and roast­ed kabobs. They are forced to flee, how­ev­er, when a deformed and lusty city inspec­tor called Drum­foot threat­ens to have them arrest­ed unless his phys­i­cal desire for the danc­ing god­dess is rou­tine­ly sat­is­fied. The humil­i­a­tion and frus­tra­tion he suf­fers from Crab­by and Albina’s escape sets Drum­foot off in mur­der­ous pur­suit of the women who slipped away on a bicy­cle built for two after leav­ing him locked up and naked with the men­tal­i­ty and, by moon­light, body of a dog.

Drum­foot is not the only man made were­wolf under Albina’s spell. Housed by a for­lorn for­mer hat mak­er named Ama­do Del­larosa, Albi­na and Crab­by resume their reli­able liveli­hood in Cam­i­na, a for­mer min­ing town in a val­ley fur­ther north that has been for­got­ten by the Lady, ren­der­ing its inhab­i­tants apa­thet­i­cal­ly immor­tal. Every man in the vil­lage comes to watch her dance, and under the full moon each of them trans­forms into a dog, tear­ing after Albi­na on her wan­ton romps into the wilder­ness in som­nam­bu­lant pur­suit of sex­u­al plea­sure. Alert­ed by her friends to the insa­tiable dual­i­ty of her char­ac­ter, Albi­na embarks on a quest for her cure, faith­ful­ly accom­pa­nied by Crab­by and Ama­do (and the love bud­ding between them) across desert and moun­tains and the fan­tas­ti­cal appari­tions they con­tain, with a brave armadil­lo named Quirquin­cho as their only guide.

A brief nov­el of baf­fling splen­dor, Albi­na and the Dog-Men is a jour­ney into the heart of the desert and the human soul.

Relat­ed Content:

Nat Bern­stein is the for­mer Man­ag­er of Dig­i­tal Con­tent & Media, JBC Net­work Coor­di­na­tor, and Con­tribut­ing Edi­tor at the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and a grad­u­ate of Hamp­shire College.

Discussion Questions