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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616200480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616200480
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,317,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The smartest character in Nelson's latest is, unfortunately, Stella, a dog who speaks to her master, the sad, divorced, and listless writer Paul, often commenting on his lack of drive and the hours he logs at the local dive (Do you realize you're only slightly less routinized than a cat?). But when Paul's dad, a former Minneapolis teacher of the year, has a stroke, Paul heads home to deal with his family and his demons, leaving behind the elderly Stella and his noncommittal girlfriend, Tamsen. Paul's two worlds never meet, though his overachieving brother, Carl, and married-with-children sister, Bits, inflict their share of damage. Everything changes, though, when Paul's father begins using an instant messaging program to communicate, and after Paul unloads to his dad about his problems, his dad (literally) spells out the answer: quit drinking. Paul takes the advice, and his sobriety ends up being a cure-all. This unfortunately pat twist undermines the work Nelson put into the earlier parts of the book, and what's supposed to be a feel-good ending comes across as cheap. The characters—Stella especially—deserve better. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"[I Thought You Were Dead] has a low-key, indie-movie vibe, with Stella sounding like Juno's older, world-weary aunt." --The Washington Post
(The Washington Post)

"Chosen by independent booksellers as a recent No. 1 Book Sense Pick, I Thought You Were Dead, a novel about the bonds between dogs and humans, is heartfelt and nostalgic in tone . . . Stella's wisdom sets the luckless Paul on a brighter life path. It's her nobility . . . that gives the story its power." --USA Today
(USA Today)

"'I thought you were dead,' Stella says to Paul when he returns home from a bar, on page one of Pete Nelson's new novel. Delivered by an aging, arthritic Labrador/Shepherd mix, the line displays the dry wit and dog logic that makes Stella and, by extension, much of this novel a delight. Yes, Stella talks. And the conversations are so charming and matter-of-fact that it hardly seems worth asking from whence this special power comes." --Bark Magazine
(Bark Magazine)

"Airy and almost miraculous . . . It's very wise about the way devotion--between animals and people, between people and people--can keep us going." --Palm Beach Post
(Palm Beach Post)

"Stella the dog is always charming. And there's a dignity and gravity to Paul's affection for her . . . Their friendship [is] one of the best ever put down on paper." --St. Louis Post Dispatch
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Ultimately, I Thought You Were Dead is about the catastrophes that make a person realize his life is a mess, then do everything he can to put his life back together--perhaps, in the process, creating something better than he dared to hope for." --BookPage
(BookPage)

“A recent No. 1 Indie Next Pick, [this] novel about the bonds between dogs and humans is heartfelt and nostalgic . . . Stella’s wisdom sets the luckless Paul on a brighter life path. It’s her nobility . . . that gives the story its power.” —USA Today


“A delight . . . Yes, Stella talks. And the conversations are so charming and matter-of-fact that it hardly seems worth asking from whence this special power comes.” —Bark magazine

“A truly outstanding talking-dog story . . . With exquisite tone control, [Nelson] has given us a story that’s sweet and loving but never sentimental . . . Graceful, gratifying.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Stella the dog is always charming. And there’s a dignity and gravity to Paul’s affection for her . . . Their friendship [is] one of the best ever put down on paper.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“Airy and almost miraculous . . . It’s very wise about the way devotion—between animals and people, between people and people—can keep us going.” —Chattanooga Times Free Press

More About the Author


Pete Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York. He got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1979 and has written both fiction and non-fiction for magazines, including Harpers, Playboy, Esquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour, Redbook. He was a columnist for Mademoiselle and a staff writer for LIVE Magazine, covering various live events including horse pulls, music festivals, dog shows, accordion camps and arm wrestling championships. Recently he was a contributing editor and feature writer for Wondertime, a Disney parenting magazine. He's published twelve young adult novels, including a six-book series about a girl named Sylvia Smith-Smith which earned him an Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America. His young adult non-fiction WWII history, Left For Dead (Randomhouse, 2002) about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis won the 2003 Christopher award as was named to the American Library Association's 2003 top ten list. His other non-fiction titles include Real Man Tells All (Viking, 1988), Marry Like a Man (NAL, l992), That Others May Live (Crown, 2000) and Kidshape (Rutledge Hill, 2004). His novel The Christmas List was published by Rutledge Hill Press in 2004. He wrote, with former army counterintelligence agent Dave DeBatto, a four book series of military thrillers, including CI: Team Red (2005), CI: Dark Target (2006), CI: Mission Liberty (2006) and CI: Homeland Threat (2007) published by Time-Warner. A More Unbending Battle; The Harlem Hellfighters' Struggle for Democracy in WWI and Equality at Home, was published in 2009 by Basic Civitas books. His novel, I Thought You Were Dead, will be published by Algonquin in 2010. He also has two CDs out on the Signature Sounds label, the first entitled The Restless Boys Club (1996), the second called Days Like Horses (2000).

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
32
4 star
11
3 star
1
2 star
2
1 star
0
See all 46 customer reviews
Love through pain.
Gene Cassidy
After the first chapter, however, the book offers nothing of substance.
Michael Weinstock
The character development is very good.
Barletto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sigrid Macdonald on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I accidentally stumbled across this book in a large pile of books that my mother was reading. Am I glad I picked it up. It's the story of a middle-aged guy who has never really communicated with his father -- i.e., Every Guy. He has a competitive relationship with his brother, and is floundering in his love life. The only love he can count on is from his dog, Stella, who acts as his best friend and psychologist. After his father has a stroke, Paul takes a hard look at himself and his life, in order to put everything, including his relationships, back on track.

This book made me laugh out loud because certain parts were so funny. And it made me think about the parental bond, and how many regrets we have after we finally realize that our parents are mortal and we haven't said or done what we wanted to. Not to mention what a critical role animals, and dogs in particular, play in terms of consoling us and making us happy. All-around great entertainment with a message.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 24, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I Thought You Were Dead; Pete Nelson
(a WONDERFUL audio book experience)

Paul Gustavson's life seems to be going in the wrong direction. Paul's a writer of the "For Morons" series; his wife has divorced him, his girlfriend is seeing someone else, his sex life has more downs than ups due to recent impotence problems, and his father has suffered a serious stroke.

Depressed, he eats too much junk food, is getting seriously out of shape, drinks a little too much, and spends a little too much time in a dirty, smelly bar called The Bay State, located in western Massachusetts. Even his dog Stella thinks this bar is too dirty and smelly to spend time in.

You see Stella, is Paul's aging Lab and Shepard mix dog; she is wise beyond her years, and has a masterful vocabulary. A dog with amazing insight and sensitivity, Paul's furry therapist of sorts, discusses issues about, relationships, life, death, and whether dogs are smarter than wolves. Stella's insight, is exactly what Paul needs when he is feeling lonely, unloved and depressed. And, it is Stella that causes Paul to get his life back on track, and to sort out his life and mend his relationships with his father, brother and find joy in life once again.

MY THOUGHTS - Josh Clark is the most amazing reader. Your heart will melt as you listen to Stella's calming dog voice. It is pitch-perfect, and it is the banter between Paul and Stella that makes this book so special. I think this book would be good if you chose to read the print version, but if you enjoy audio books -- seek this one out. Dog lover or not, it is a story to be enjoyed -- funny, touching, heartfelt and memorable. DON'T MISS IT!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Wanderlust Cook on May 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I joined a book club for the chance to socialize and get away from my usual genres -- mystery and espionage. I don't usually enjoy the human emotional theme but this book grew on me. My dog experienced the same fear of lightening and end of life. The guy's perspective on divorce, relationships and drinking portrayed realistic self- examination. Stella, the dog, plays the inner voice we all have when we are mulling over issues and trying to be honest with ourselves... A nice spin.It all ties up very neatly in a very short period of time. Regardless, this is a light, beach read for men and women.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Literate Housewife on April 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I had intended on hosting The Dog Days of Summer again this year, so when I saw the audiobook copy of I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson offered up in LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program, I requested it. I was excited when I snagged it and it arrived in April. I'd never snagged an audiobook before. As with much else in my life the second half of this year, Dog Days of Summer didn't materialize this summer and this audiobook slipped my mind. I didn't get around to listening to it until September.

I Thought You Were Dead begins with the premise that a man and his dog can actually speak to each other. The first time Josh Clark, the book's narrator, speaks in Stella's voice it was slightly awkward. I decided to suspend my disbelief and see where the story took me. I am so glad that I did. It didn't take long for Stella's voice to feel natural and necessary to me. I loved her. Any worries that I might have had that this novel would be too much like The Art of Racing in the Rain were put to bed immediately.

Paul's story of his broken marriage, his half-hearted career as a writer of "For Morons" books, his faraway family and ill father, his tenuous relationship with his current girlfriend and his other issues were interesting to me as well. Life doesn't always work out the way it's planned. This novel is about coming to grips with that realization and coming out the other side a stronger person. In that way, Stella's place in Paul's life falls somewhere between conscience and his inner voice. It all worked well for me.

I don't often all out cry when reading books. I Thought You Were Dead was the first audiobook to ever bring me to tears - three times in fact.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cindy on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book so much that I bought multiples to give away (always keeping one for myself) I read my own copy twice. This is such a heartwarming story about a man and the trials in his life. This is not just a book about a talking dog. This book will make you laugh and cry, and you'll buy a copy for a friend! Great book for bookclubs. Truly one of my favorite books. I highly recommend it!
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