What if God was a teenage boy? That is the question Meg Rosoff asks in her thought-experiment-in-novel-format, There is No Dog. God, a lanky, self-centered teen named Bob, got the job as Earth’s Allmighty because his mom won it in a poker game. But Earth is a backwater, in a little known and not wanting to be known part of the universe. Because of this, the higher-than-God-powers-that-be assented, with the condition that Mr. B., a fastidious, efficient bureaucrat comes with him as his assistant.
So Bob goes crazy for about six days, where he creates really weird creatures, experiments with different lighting systems (once the earth was lit solely by crystal chandeliers) and decides it would be fun to create creatures in his own image. Hahahahahahaha.
Then he gets tired and lets Mr. B. take over. Bob only rouses himself from his junk food-induced coma when a pretty girl crosses his path. Then he spends all his energy and that of Mr. B, pursuing the girl until he gets her to sleep with him and he grows bored and goes back to bed (some of his less than stellar wooing ideas included disguising himself as a swan and appearing to the maiden in question as a bull).
Then his mother loses Bob’s pet in yet another poker game, Mr. B. can’t take Bob’s self-centered, lazy whinging anymore and resigns, and Bob falls head over heels for a young zookeeper’s assistant.
In a nutshell, everything goes to hell (pun intended.)
Although there are some funny bits (and just the premise alone makes me happy), this book feels more bitter and sad than anything. God comes off as a total wanker. Honestly, if I was a teenage boy, I might have some words for Ms. Rosoff because if all teenage boys are made in the image of Bob, then that would mean they are all self-centered, mother-hating, lazy, slobs driven by an excessive libido with no empathy or foresight or sense of responsibility.
Oh, but sometimes they have rare moments of genius. That is Rosoff’s God.
The real pathos comes with Mr. B, who is the real god-a beleaguered middle-aged man who has spent tens of thousands of years trying to clean up Bob’s mess. The only creatures he was allowed to create were the whales, for which he has a soft spot. But like everything else on the planet, they are suffering because of the mess Bob’s “made in his own image” creatures have wreaked. Mr. B. spends his days answering as many prayers as he can and attempting to cajole Bob into actually fixing something. Basically attempting to fix a burst pipe with a band-aid.
Although there are rare moments of transcendence, when everything in the world seems right, and the joy of being alive on Earth is palpable, those moments are few and far between (which I guess mirrors reality). The message Rosoff conveys with her usual ferocity is that God is an asshat and his creation absurd at best and criminal at worst.