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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shaggy Dog

Randomly I stumbled upon the term "Shaggy dog story." Apparently it is a kind of "extremely long-winded tale featuring extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents, usually resulting in a pointless or absurd punchline. These stories are a special case of yarns, coming from the long tradition of campfire yarns." For example ---

A boy owned a dog that was uncommonly shaggy. Many people remarked upon its considerable shagginess. When the boy learned that there are contests for shaggy dogs, he entered his dog. The dog won first prize for shagginess in both the local and the regional competitions. The boy entered the dog in ever-larger contests, until finally he entered it in the world championship for shaggy dogs. When the judges had inspected all of the competing dogs, they remarked about the boy's dog: "He's not so shaggy.

It so happens that I have been re-reading "A Game of Thrones" lately, in which the youngest Stark kid, the little wild man Rickon, named his direwolf "Shaggydog." Now I have a weird suspicion that the A Song of Ice and Fire series is one big Shaggy Dog story.

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