Book Review: Wonderdog (2004)

Who is Dev Degraw? Wonderdog, a comedic novel by Inman Majors, takes us along as ne’er-do-well Degraw wanders through a disintegrating life.

On the surface, Dev is a lot of things. He’s the 33-year-old son of the long-time governor of Alabama. He’s a divorced parent now chasing other women and pursuing his father’s female press secretary. He’s the former child star of a short-lived 1970s TV show filmed in Alabama called Bayou Dog, a role he obtained thanks to his father and not because of his acting ability (as he was the “worst child actor of all time”). And, as the book’s opening paragraphs point out:

Like everyone else in the world I am a lawyer.And like everyone else in the world, I’d rather do just about anything else than practice law.

That is probably what Dev is best at — not practicing law. That and spending most of this time barhopping and running up bar tabs amidst acquaintances and the college crowd in Tuscaloosa.

Although billed as a new piece of Southern comedy, for the most part Wonderdog is not laugh-out-loud funny. It is humorous throughout but these are the comic adventures of a man who is caught by the Southern flavor in which the book tries to bask. Part of Dev’s struggle is that the culture in which he lives renders him little more than just good ol’ Dev Degraw, the Governor’s son. Dev’s life consists of coping with that station in life and his own self-destructive decisions. Yet while admitting he’s not happy, Dev just as quickly observes, “I’m not unhappy.”

The comedic approach used by Majors may be one of the better ways to explore the story of such a man.

For aren’t we all products of strange stories, improbable couplings, negotiating as best we can the great maze of predestination and chance encounter that makes up that which we call human life?

Inman Majors, Wonderdog

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