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Dogfight: And Other Stories
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Knight's work to date seems to me like a gentile version of "Goodbye Columbus." He has Roth's eye for the lusty details that make the blood go to the skin. I recommend this book especially to young readers and writers like myself who are interested in the way that middle class experience can be made into meaningful fiction. In response to one of the critics above, I think "Birdland" (NewYorker) is the best of all Knight's stories, with the exception, perhaps, of "Bad man, So Pretty." If you want to see someone get a lot better at fiction writing with time, read "Birdland" after Dog Fight. Hope to see more from Knight soon. Am very jealous of his talent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book after reading `Killing Stonewall Jackson', the author's contribution to the outstanding collection STORIES FROM THE BLUE MOON CAFÉ. I enjoyed what I found here, but not as much as that story - which is not to say for a moment that Knight is not a talented writer.
The works that touched me the most in this slim volume were `Gerald's monkey' (a terrific coming-of-age piece in which a privileged young man experiences the shock of empathizing with some of the workers at his uncle's shipyard); `A bad man, so pretty' (another coming-of-age tale in which a young man watches his brother throw away any chances of making it in life); `The man who went out for cigarettes' (a look at a man toiling over an excruciating, life-changing decision); `Sundays' (one of the most painfully evocative depictions of loneliness I've read); and `Tenant' (in which a college professor comes to know his landlady after her death, through her German shepherd.
Knight's characterizations are well drawn and compelling - the people in these stories never come across as false or contrived. I didn't find myself drawn into the action or premise of every single story - the ones mentioned above managed to do that, exerting quite a strong pull on me. `Killing Stonewall Jackson' is, I think, a newer work, with more of a surreal quality to it than anything here - I'll definitely be inclined to check out anything I find by Knight in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Stories as good as "Gerald's Monkey" and "A Bad Man, So Pretty" have no place beside pieces as weak as "Poker". People who can write stories as well as Knight can can also do better than "The Blonde" (his recent story in The New Yorker). I really enjoy/like/respect Knight's writing, so I want him to preserve his growing rep by being a little more careful about what makes it out of the gate. To his credit, I rarely enjoy short story collections at all anymore (except those nasty ones of Mary Gaitskill), and I did enjoy Dogfight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
There's something about Michael Knight's writing that keeps me turning each and every page. I loved every story in this book. If any other author had written these stories, they would most likely only be mediocre, but Michael Knight can take these stories and make them real. He's an extraordinary writer, a wonderful teacher, and a great person.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this clever and thoughtful collection, though I did feel it was a little inconsistent. The strong stories outnumber the weaker ones by far, and the strong ones will knock your socks off.
Michael is a wonderful writer (and a wonderful teacher, and a super-nice guy).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
Michael Knight's stories are evocative and stirring without being too big to get your hands around them. Another short story, "Birdland," is in the New Yorker's Nov. 9, 1998 issue and well worth the search. I'm really looking forward to his first novel, "Divining Rod."
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on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
To be honest, I picked up this book out of sheer guilt. I took a few classes from Michael Knight, including an independent study which I am completely indebted to him for as it helped me graduate on time, and I felt bad that while this man has had such influence on my writing, I still hadn't read any of his work. I was not disappointed. The stories are cleanly written, and very deep-hitting despite the simple facade to them. I haven't finished this book yet but so far, the title story: Dogfight is my favorite. Recommended for folks who enjoy reading short stories and anyone else for that matter.
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on June 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've read just about everything Michael Knight has written, and have enjoyed his work immensely. This is his first story collection, originally published in 1998, but republished in 2007, with a new story, "Smash & Grab," replacing one ("Poker") in the original book. I had read his second collection, "Goodnight, Nobody" first. There was a marvelous story in that one titled "Blackout" that felt in the same vein as the Martin Scorcese movie, "After Hours," exploring craziness that happens after the sun sets on, in the story's case, a suburban neighborhood. This entire collection feels like an extension of that theme, as it looks all the social and familial dysfunction of residents and neighbors in the suburbs. Usually they're told through the eyes of men who haven't quite figured out what their relationships with woman should be, or even more simply, figured out women at all. All the stories are wonderfully told, with characters you can immediately relate and wonderful gifts for detail that make them and their worlds come alive on the page. All the stories are straightforward, realistic tales, so there's none of the surrealistic stuff that many writers feel obligated to add to collections to demonstrate their writing chops.

The 10 stories, mostly set in contemporary Alabama, in this version of the collection are:

1. Smash & Grab - 13 pp - When a robber breaks into a house, he unexpectedly finds a teenage girl, who has more than a few surprises in store for him. It's ultimately a very funny story about the complexities of familial relationships.

2. Now You See Her - 17 pp - A widower and his 13-year-old son both become obsessed with a beautiful women who lives next door and parades naked around her curtain-less apartment.

3. Dogfight - 19 pp - A wonderfully told mash-up of misery in the suburbs. It begins with a brutal dogfight, then one owner sleeps with the owner of the dog who had attacked his. The adulterer's ex-wife lives in the house behind his, and he finds himself getting close to her again when he shares the news of his affair. But when the cuckolded husband finds out, another vicious fight breaks out between the two men.

4. Gerald's Monkey - 18 pp - A young man works in his uncle's ship-building boatyard one summer and learns grim lessons about life from the welders he works alongside.

5. Sleeping with My Dog - 14 pp - A mosaic craftsmen becomes consumed with jealousy when his vivacious takes business trips with her lascivious boss.

6. Amelia Earhart's Coat - 15 pp - A 10-year-old girl worries that her father will run off with Amelia Earhart after she sees them exchange a kiss. (It's the one historical story in the collection with a setting out of Alabama, too, in this case, a rich estate in Rye, New York.)

7. A Bad Man, So Pretty - 21 pp - A 16-year-old boy lives in the shadow of his wild, violent other brother.

8. The Man Who Went Out for Cigarettes - 8 pp - A man who works on a charter fishing boat struggles with the hardships of living with a wife who was crippled in a car accident.

9. Sundays -- 15 pp - Wiley is a single Latin teacher who lives in a cul de sac with a bunch of divorced, widowed, or unwed mothers and enjoys being the sole object of their flirtations. But when another male teacher gets invited to the neighborhood's routine Sunday night potluck dinners, with more on his mind than casual flirtation, Wiley has to question his connection to all these women and their children.

10. Tenant - 15 pp - A college professor lives as a tenant on a piece of land that was once a Southern plantation, while carrying on secret relationship with a student at the community college where he teaches who is four years older than he. His normal routine is disrupted when his 75-year-old landlord kills herself by burning the main house down, leaving a German shepherd who haunts the property, lost and lonely after its owner died.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This neat collection of southern fried stories is most notable for some of the remarkable characters who come alive in its pages. Despite the title, many of the stories have no canine characters. All of them, however, play on the themes that grow from man's relationship with his favorite pet. Pride, devotion, fidelity, death--all the emotions that come to light through man's bond with dog--are intimately woven together to create tales of honest humanity.
Some of the stories resonate enough to recall Faulkner, in particular "A Bad Man So Pretty", about a hardscrabble delinquent and his long-suffering brother. "Tenant" is another story dripping with southern nostalgia for the nobility and grandeur of times past.
A couple of the stories, while interesting, seem misplaced in this collection. "Amelia Earhardt's Coat", about a little girl's encounter with the famous aviatrix while growing up in the social heights of Rye, New York, seems more suited to a John Cheever collection. Others, like "Sundays" and "Poker", don't rise to the quality of the rest--they seem like practice runs, sophomoric and self-conscious.
Ultimately the stories' strength rests in the complexity and colors of its many memorable characters. While the collection overall is uneven and the writing sometimes underdeveloped, the people in the stories become outrageous stories themselves.
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on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm glad to see this book out in a new print. It's one of the best collections I've ever read. Stories like "Now You See Her" and "Sundays" are as good as it gets.
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