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Diamond Dogs: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Length: 268 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Penzler Pick, October 2000: This disturbing first novel, set in Nevada, is the story of Neil Garvin, a high school football star who, in his own words, tells us of the night at Fred Billings's house when he drank more beer than he can remember.

Drinking beer is what high school jocks do, and for Neil, it also drives away the anger he feels at his father, at his life, and at the fact that his mother left them when Neil was a baby. Neil blames his distant and abusive father for driving her away. A charming man to those who don't know him, Neil's father spends his leisure time drinking Midori and listening to Neil Diamond, after whom he has named his son. (The scene where Neil's father takes him to Las Vegas for a Neil Diamond concert is a memorable one in a book filled with great scenes.)

Driving home from Fred's house in his father's car, Neil hits and kills a boy who is walking home from the party. Drunk and disoriented, Neil stuffs the body in the trunk, drives home, and passes out. When the body disappears from the trunk, Neil knows his father has found the body and hidden it, although not a word about this passes between them. Since Neil's father is the sheriff of the town, he is called in by the dead boy's family to find their missing son.

The investigation is seen through Neil's eyes as he squirms through his father's seeming inability to find any clues about the missing boy and his own growing closeness to the boy's family, especially his sister, who see Neil and his father as friends and allies. He also watches as his father battles with the FBI (the dead boy's uncle is an agent) over jurisdiction of the case.

While it is difficult to feel sorry for Neil as the net slowly closes around him, and his fear of being caught turns to self-loathing, the reader knows exactly what happened and feels like a participant. It is an uncomfortable feeling for the reader and a difficult mood for the author to maintain, but Alan Watt manages to pull it off without a hitch. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Highly readable, if finally unconvincing, Watt's debut novel is the story of a bitter family legacy and a traumatic reckoning, as Watt explores the reasons an abusive father might risk everything to cover up a crime committed by his damaged, equally cruel teenage son. Inebriated after a party with his high school football team, Neil Garvin, 17, first-string quarterback and "the best arm in Nevada," accidentally kills a classmate, Ian Curtis. Neil's father, the sheriff of their small town near Las Vegas, covers up for his son. Ian's parents report the boy missing, and more than 300 students join in a search led by Neil's father. Mrs. Curtis asks her brother, an FBI agent, to help, and as the FBI tightens the net, Neil and his father must face some truths about their family. Watt, who is also a stand-up comic, has a knack for deploying well-timed plot points to reveal crucial information. The book starts off with faithful characterizations of the sad, angry father and son, and the dialogue between them is appropriately savage, but there are key moments in the story that don't ring true. The most unconvincing scene occurs at the narrative's dramatic apex, when Neil finally, and improbably, discovers the dark secret of why his mother left home when he was three. At the same time, the reasons for Neil's hellish childhood become melodramatically clear. Still, there are certain pleasures in this novel, including incisive scenes that capture the petty cruelties and poignant betrayals of adolescents. The author also gives vivid voice to a character type that has become a staple in modern American fiction: a man unmoored by divorce and filled with festering anger and alienation. Watt takes the archetype a step further, delineating how the father's desperate behavior affects his son, and how this pair find an uneasy peace in breaking the chain of lies and violence. 5-city author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 370 KB
  • Print Length: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2000
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001H4R1V4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,188,173 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Alan Watt grew up on a strawberry farm in Ontario Canada. He became a standup comic in the 1980s and moved to Los Angeles on Jan. 1st '94, just 17 days before the big earthquake. After selling his first novel he quit the road, stayed home and got a girlfriend.

Watt is an L.A. Times best-selling novelist and screenwriter as well as consultant to some of Hollywood's top writers and producers. He has won a number of awards for his writing including France's 2004 Prix Printemps (best foreign novel) for Diamond Dogs.

Mr. Watt first taught a summer screenwriting workshop at UCLA in 1998, and has been teaching and lecturing on the creative process in L.A. and at colleges around the country ever since. He spent three years teaching storytelling to inner city high school students through the non-profit arm of Spoken Interludes.

He founded L.A. Writers' Lab in 2002 as a place for writers to deepen their craft by learning to marry the wildness of their imaginations to the rigor of story structure. He has taught everyone from award-winning authors and A-list screenwriters, to journalists, poets, actors, professional athletes, war veterans, housewives, doctors, lawyers, television showrunners, and anyone else with a story to tell.

In 2010 he created The 90-Day Novel Press to publish books on writing, which includes Amazon's #1 bestselling book on writing, The 90-Day Novel. Mr. Watt is also the founder of Writers Tribe Books, a publisher of literary fiction. And you may, perhaps, recognize him from his three lines as the hotdog vendor in the "Chinese Gum" episode of Seinfeld.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Diamond Dogs" refers to those elite who possess the talent and charisma to rise above the pack...and Alan Watt has captured perfectly the double-edged sword that such talent becomes, especially when you're 17-year-old Neil Garvin. His young life changes dramatically one fateful night as he drives home drunkenly from a friends party, and he strikes and kills a fellow student in his father's car. Not even his sheriff father can save him from the personal hell which he endures when he makes a series of bad choices. Although the story ends in triumphant redemption, this victory is bittersweet for both Neil and his tormented father. Both have abandonment issues that color their every decision, and by the final page, each deals with those in cataclysmic ways...resulting in one of the most powerfully triumphant stories to grace a page. Watt has captured Neil's tortured soul in an original voice, and aptly portrays the effects of two men's choices that go horribly wrong on a family that is already deteriorating beyond repair. Far from being depressing, "Diamond Dogs" is hopeful and poetic. A highly recommended read!
Also recommended as companion books: "Good Times, Bad Times"--James Kirkwood
"A Separate Peace"--John Knowles
"The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys"--Chris Fuhrman
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Format: Paperback
Diamond Dogs is a wonderful work of fiction you can't put down from the moment you read the first page. Alan Watt has written an exciting, non-stop story centering around a hit and run accident and its subsequent cover-up. A wonderful suspenseful tale of a mixed-up but loving relationship between father and son.
High School quarterback Neil Garvin, a much-worshipped high school football star narrates the story. It's thru his eyes that the whole story enfolds, and you quickly realize that teenagers today are much more mature than we give them credit for. It's over the course of the next three days following the accident that Neil's life is completely changed when his father, the sheriff, helps cover-up the accident. We become a participant in the events that follow, whether we like it or not, and we get drawn into the complexities of small-town life, and father and son bonding.
Whether it takes you a few hours, a day, or 2 days, this is a book you won't forget. A very promising debut novel from this author. An easy read that will keep you very entertained. Bravo!!
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Format: Paperback
Powerfully written, deep but approachable, Diamond Dogs is a great read. The book's best quality is the first-person narrator. Seventeen-year-old Neil tells us the story in his own voice, but unlike other first-person teenage narrators, Alan Watt captures the thoughts, actions, fears and emotions of a young person extremely well. In so many other books the narrator seems like a kid written by an adult, either too wise or to naïve for his (or her) supposed years. As Neil tells us his story, Watt deftly moves from action to thoughts, from detail of the crime to the results of the action within the walls of his school, at home and in Neil's private world. Terrific teenage first-person narrative of a multi-layered story makes Diamond Dogs an important book.
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Format: Paperback
Alan Watt's "Daimond Dogs" packs an enormous punch. Set in the physical and emotional wasteland outside Las Vegas, the novel chronicles the unspooling impact of a vehicular homicide on the lives of the protagonist, Neil Garvin, and his controlling father. Watt's pacing is impressive, and the novel gathers strength as it progresses. By the time I has reached the final day of the three days elapsed since the homicide, I felt completely immersed in the inner dynamics of Neil's emotions and the tense outcome of the criminal investigation following the victim's disappearance. Because the author invests so much of the novel with moral universals (What are our responsibilities when innocent blood is shed? What limits are there to friendship and family ties?), transendent familial values (loyalty, love, and loss), and overwhelming emotion (fear, anger and betrayal), "Diamond Dogs" will remain with the reader long after completion.
Star quarterback Neil Garvin appears to have it all. The son of handsome but aloof sheriff Chester Garvin, Neil lives an emotionally crippled life. Plagued with questions about his mother's abrupt departure from his life when he was but a child, Neil at once envies friends whith coherent families but never allows himself to share his most intimate feelings with anyone. Despite his academic talent, Neil elects to play the fool in class, drink heartily with his pampered football cohorts and seethe with quiet anger over his father's fascination with Neil Diamond. The Las Vegas setting skews his view of women, and with the absence of any stable woman in his life, he is left with his father's predatory attitude as his model of relationships.
Watt's characterizations are superb.
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By A Customer on October 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like its protagonist, this book is tough and lean, with a soft spot buried deep beneath. It benefits from a compelling narrative voice and an escalating plotline that keeps you turning pages. It also benefits from a surprise ending that gives some seemingly two-dimensional characters more depth and motivation. I read it in two sittings, the same night, and enjoyed every minute.
My only criticism was in missed opportunities. While the spare prose style is tight and the plot sharp, there are sacrifices made in the name of brevity. Potentially interesting characters are left undeveloped, intriguing plotlines unexplored, and the ending is so sudden it seems to have been driven more by deadline concerns than anything else. It's not surprising the author is a Hollywood guy -- in some respects the book reads like a fleshed-out screenplay, with a director, cinematographer and actors needed to fill in the gaps.
Bottom line: in some ways this novel reads like a Cliffs' Notes version of a longer story -- but it's a great story, and that's more than good enough.
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