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Dog on the Cross: Stories Paperback – Deckle Edge, January 3, 2004

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This haunting debut collection features eight loosely related stories set in the sleepy town of Perser, Oklahoma. The centerpiece of the town--as well as most of the stories--is the Pentecostal church, a bastion of fundamental Christianity artfully poised to protect the faithful and condemn the sinners scattered across the harsh Oklahoma landscape. Much of the action takes place during a pivotal summer when the church is in revival mode and a charismatic teen faith healer directly or indirectly touches the lives of a broad spectrum of characters. Although each of these stories is capable of standing on its own, together they represent a potent glimpse into the occasionally uplifting but more often dangerously fanatical elements of religious fundamentalism. Reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor, Gwyn uses faith as the foundation for a compelling analysis of human behavior. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Brace yourself for immersion in a world of sinners and saved, backsliders and revivals....An auspicious first."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156512412X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565124127
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aaron Gwyn was raised on a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma. He is the author of a story collection, Dog on the Cross (finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award), and a novel, The World Beneath. His short stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, McSweeney's, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review, and New Stories from the South. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where he is an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and contributes book reviews, articles, and narrative nonfiction to Esquire.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Englishboy on July 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
The title story--about a dog nailed to a cross outside a church, presumably to discourage its members--is one of the most haunting and graceful stories I've read in years. But what I like most about this collection is how the author depicts the Southern Pentecostal experience, without irony or prejudice, to produce a deeply engrossing collection of stories in which sum of its parts is somehow more than the individual pieces.
Gwyn is one of the true descendents of Flannery O'Connor, with a little Larry Brown and Eudora Welty thrown into the mix. If you ever read with awe one of Flannery O'Connor's stories--such as "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" or "Good Country People"--you will not be disappointed in the least with Dog on the Cross.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Brown on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Gwyn's debut had me simultaneously in stitches and mortified. He wonderfully captures the essence of Pentecostal faith, with all of its trappings (and shortcomings). It read, at times, like a classic gothic novel, but with a slightly more critical eye. Yet, Gwyn doesn't judge his characters in those most convenient moments when many early writers would fall victim to the temptation. This stories-as-novel approach to revival preachers, small town life, back woods paranoia, and the pitfalls of zealous followers of religion turns the mirror onto all of us. It's a near-perfect debut whose only shortcoming is that it might have been slightly *more* honest at times. It seems, on occasion, that Gwyn fears offending the very people who he depicts in this collection, and yet the nature of his subject matter virtually guarantees that devotees of Christianity--particularly the Fundamentalists and Pentecostals on display here--will take offense. So, Mr. Gwyn, next time pull no punches!
Still, Gwyn is a welcome addition to the contemporary literary scene. I look forward to reading future works by him. I only hope that he not write to any specific audience, and instead be brutally honest--as our best writers are.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Forest Mifflin on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
With these stories Aaron Gwyn has tapped into something common in all of us. I read these short stories and was astonished by how original they were, taking the life of the Pentecostal and showing us something completely new, different. Each story takes you somewhere wholly unexpected. Gwyn is the O'Henry for our times. I'd recommend this book to any short story fan and those who really need to feel how strong a short story can hit you.
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