The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs

by Alexander McCall Smith

Paperback, 2004

Call number




Anchor (2004), 128 pages


Invited to lecture in America, von Igelfeld envisions a visit to California or New York. Instead, he finds himself at the University of Arkansas. Still, in von Igelfeld's view, one American state is very like the other. An expert philolgist, von Igelfeld prepares to deliver a talk on verbs, until he makes a grim discovery--he has been mistaken for a German master of veterinary science who has recently passed away.

User reviews

LibraryThing member themulhern
A gentle satire of academia. It is, in parts, quite funny.
LibraryThing member rarewren
The continuing exploits of Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, the maddeningly and somewhat adorably quixotic protagonist of this three-part series. I may have enjoyed Sausage Dogs even more than Portuguese Irregular Verbs...I plowed right through it; will read again and savor all the delicious details.
LibraryThing member tundra
Somewhat slow..but it is kind of great actually. Especially when read with an accent.
LibraryThing member jon1lambert
A kind of cult book with a cult title - fun and interesting to read but , for me, forgettable
LibraryThing member ethelmertz
Very funny! I listened to this book while on a long drive. I laughed aloud several times.
LibraryThing member quincidence
Truly humorous as to showing the shortsightedness of the mundane and intelligent. The story and the character is easy to follow, easy to love, misunderstand and want to hand a clue-by-four. His adorable arrogance, his spunky loyalty to Germany, and his simple life all make for a easy read that leaves you smiling.

Alexander McCall Smith leaves us with one more charming book.… (more)
LibraryThing member thornton37814
Prof. von Igelfeld, an expert on Portuguese language, has a rivalry with one of his colleagues which caues him to get into unusual situations. He is mistakenly booked to speak to a group in Arkansas who believes him to be an expert on sausage dogs. Later he transports bones for a Coptic Church official. Finally his cruise lecture series leads to a group of female admirers. While there is a thread which ties the stories together, the work seems a little disjointed. It was an "okay read," but not a great one.… (more)
LibraryThing member theghostis
An absolutely hilarious book.
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Professor of Philology Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of Germany is quite the entertaining character. Iglefeld sees himself as the epitome of scholarship, and his ego gets him into some hilarious situations. His trip to Arkansas is the funniest stretch of the book, though his experiences in the Vatican library, and on a lecture cruise ship are close seconds. The humor is in the writing. Smith knows just how to word something to make it funny.

This short book isn't so much a novel, as a series of episodes. The events of each episode are largely unrelated to the events of another, so one comes away almost feeling that one has read a short story collection rather than a novel.

It is also refreshingly peaceful. Like Smith's Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency series, the book is free of evildoers, and makes for a pleasant and relaxing read.
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LibraryThing member mcschlosser
The second book in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, this volume centers around Prof. Dr. Von Igelfeld and an unfortunate misunderstanding with regard to his field of expertise. He is a Philologist whose focus is on Portuguese Irregular Verbs who, do to an unfortunate similarity of names, is mistaken for a Veterinary Dr. whose specialty is Sausage Dogs. The resulting series of events will have you laughing out loud. I read parts of this book to my sons who laughed so hard it brought tears to their eyes. A very short, very entertaining read.… (more)
LibraryThing member jjvors
Once more, [Alexander McCall Smith], author of the No 1 Ladies' Detective series, tickles my funny bone in another series involving Professor Dr. Igelfeld, master philologist of mideval romance languages, noted for his seminal work, "Portuguese Irregular Verbs". In this book, [[The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs]], Dr Igelfeld is pressed into service as an emergency vetinary surgeon, a courier for Father Christmas' bones, and as an entertaining lecturer on a cruise ship. Just when you think the ridiculous meets the sublime, the sublime become ridiculous.… (more)
LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
Professor von Igelfeld and his academic friends continue to have minor adventures filled with interesting characters and their foibles.

The second installment of the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series had some highs and lows. It seems like this title leaned into the satirical element more; there were moments when I actually laughed out loud. However, some of that leaning in also made it a little bit absurd, like the fate of the poor sausage dog, which will not sit well with many readers I think. Unlike the previous title, this one seemed like more of a continuous narrative than a bunch of vignettes; neither style is bad, but just worth noting the difference. Once again, completely unnecessary and unhelpful black-and-white illustrations occasionally pepper the text.

I continue to not be overly thrilled with this series but find it a light relief from the darker media I usually consume. That, combined with the fact that there's only four titles in total, means that I will probably press forward with this series.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
True to the character McCall Smith presents to readers in Portuguese Irregular Verbs, Professor Dr. von Ingelfeld continues to find himself in awkward situations of his own devising, all due to his ingrained belief in his own self-importance. The connected short stories in this book had a smoother flow to them as the stories seem to be more closely connected, more like chapters in a novel. It helped that my previous exposure to von Ingelfeld via Portuguese Irregular Verbs helped me to anticipate some of the inane behavior and decisions of our illustrious professor, but even then, McCall Smith manages a couple of “OMG” moments for me as I was reading. I still find von Ingelfeld to be a rather despicable individual but at least the author has now given von Ingelfeld the occasional bouts of conscience, tempering his self-importance arrogence, especially after the very poor way in which he treats his ‘dear’ (and possibly only) friend, Professor Dr. Unterholzer. As annoying as I continue to find von Ingelfeld, I have to admit that he is starting to grow on me. This is a character who consistently manages to dig himself a deeper hole when he attempts to get out of a situation, which lends to the comic side of things. The misadventures von Ingelfeld encounters on the Mediterranean cruise were quite funny and did give me a chuckle or two.

If, like me, you read Portuguese Irregular Verbs and consider not wasting your time with the other books in the series, I will gently nudge you towards The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs. It is a short read and may convince you, like it did me, to continue reading the further books in the series. Just be forewarned that the humour still continues to be very dry and might not appeal to all readers.
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LibraryThing member teckelvik
I got this book because I love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, and I love Dachshunds. I found it very disappointing.

The book is supposed to be a satire of academics, and it is, in a very gentle way. The main character is a German professor of Romance languages, who seriously believes that the rest of the world is as fascinated by Portuguese irregular verbs as he is. There are several volumes in this series about his bewildered interaction with people outside his beloved institute.

The problem is that the satire is too gentle, and the humor too dry. It's odd, and sweet, but nothing more. There's no bite to it, and satire without bite is, well, boring.

In addition, the Sausage Dog of the title is first abused (the professor accidentally amputates three of its legs) and then handed over to a religious cult that wants to worship its bones when it dies. (Don't ask, really. I'm a religious studies major, and I winced at how offensive this section is to the Copts.) This is all played for laughs (of the very dry and gentle kind). Obviously, I didn't' think this was funny at all.

I did have a good time imagining how entertaining this book could have been if Mr. Smith actually knew any sausage dogs. Any Dachshund I have ever met would take on the professor, take over his life and home, commandeer his food supply, and convince him to enjoy the experience. Watching the professor mull over Portuguese etymology while his Dachshund manipulates him from underfoot could have been very, very funny.
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