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Men and Dogs: A Novel Hardcover – April 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Crouch's accomplished sophomore novel kicks off with a flashback: 20-odd years ago, Buzz Legare vanished while on a fishing trip. The fallout of his disappearance and presumed death appears in his 30-something children: Hannah drinks too much, her business is failing, and her husband has kicked her out after her repeated adultery. Hannah's gay brother, Palmer, refuses to let anyone get too close—he's ready to end his yearlong relationship when his partner brings up the idea of adopting a baby. After Hannah injures herself trying to break into her husband's apartment, she heads home to Charleston, S.C., to get her life back on track, but instead finds herself pursuing the past. Damaged and vulnerable, she zigzags through her past—an old boyfriend, questions about her parents' fidelity, and finally facing down where her unwillingness to accept love has gotten her. There's nothing unique about the premise—woman in crisis goes home and discovers herself by exhuming the past—but Crouch (Girls in Trucks) handles it deftly; her dialogue is snappy, the situations darkly funny, Hannah and Palmer are unlikable but sympathetic, and there's just enough mystery to keep the pages turning. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Following her embraced debut, Girls in Trucks (2008), Crouch offers another southern tale in which Hannah Legare finds herself back in her hometown, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, as her marriage, business, and life in San Francisco crumble. She soon begins to puzzle over an old mystery: her father Buzz’s mysterious disappearance more than 20 years earlier. Hannah retraces old ground, hoping to glean insights from the recollections of her mother, stepfather, brother, and family friends. Yet most residents of the town prefer to remember Buzz fondly, and view his disappearance during a routine fishing expedition as a tragic accident. Hannah, however, is still haunted by her father’s absence and the thought of the family dog drifting alone in the boat. Her quest to discover her father’s true fate provides clues to Hannah’s current problems, including her trouble being faithful to her husband, even as she realizes she may find information she never wanted to know. At least she will finally begin to piece together her own story. --Katherine Boyle

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316002135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316002134
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,666,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Katie Crouch is the New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks. Her other novels include Men and Dogs, two young adult novels, and Abroad, a literary thriller set in Italy. Julia Glass wrote of Abroad: With uncanny psychological precision and a dark, dead-on wit, Katie Crouch explores how the casual follies of youth all too quickly turn tragic" Katie covered the Amanda Knox appeal for Slate magazine, and has also written for The Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney's, Tin House, and Salon, and she has a regular column on The Rumpus called "Missed." A MacDowell fellow, Crouch teaches at San Francisco State University and lives in Bolinas, California with Peter Orner and their daughter Phoebe.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By lydiadeetz on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm surprised by all the great reviews for this book. It WAS a quick read, and I did like Hannah's character, but ultimately, it was just an unsatisfying book for me. There are plot summaries in the other reviews, so I won't rehash them here. Basically, there's just something missing. I kept reading because I wanted to know what had happened to Hannah's father, and I wanted to know how Hannah and Palmer's stories ended. But, the way it's all wrapped up at the end doesn't do the rest of the book justice.

I also felt that some of the characters weren't sufficiently developed. Hannah's mom, and Hannah's relationship with her were only superficially examined. And, I also felt that Jon's character wasn't adequately explored. I understand that this book is about Hannah, and her 'search', but if these other characters are a part of the book, they should be more than just caricatures.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alla S. VINE VOICE on March 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "Men and Dogs," Katie Crouch tells the story of Hannah Legare, a young woman in her mid-thirties who is forced to confront her life after her husband Jon leaves her because of her cheating and her business collapses after she stops paying attention to its operations. After Hannah tries to climb into her husband's locked apartment in an attempt to get him back--she slips on the fire escape and injures herself. As a result, Jon contacts Hannah's mother Daisy and insists upon Hannah temporarily staying with her family and recovering from her cheating and drinking problems.

And so, unwittingly, Hannah leaves behind her life in San Francisco to live in Charleston, South Carolina with her mother and wealthy stepfather Will DeWitt. Complicating matters is Hannah's past, which she now has to face. Her father Buzz Legare, disappeared in a boating accident when Hannah was eleven. The boat was found whole but empty. Buzz's body was never found. Hannah's family believes he died, while Hannah believes he ran away. Now, back to where it all started, Hannah becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of her father's disappearance--and finding out whether Daisy's romance with her stepfather played a role.

Interwoven with Hannah's story is the story of her gay brother Palmer, who, despite the stable nature of his life, seems to lack the very thing that would give his life meaning--happiness. His boyfriend Tom seems amicable enough, until he suggests they adopt a child. The conflict eats away at their relationship until Palmer seeks to find solace in his profession as a vet, working with Jenny White, the wife of Hannah's ex-boyfriend Warren Meyers. Of course he's unaware that Hannah seeks to re-kindle her relationship with Warren, much to the displeasure of Jenny.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a big fan of what I call political sprinking in novels. Other than a few references to tv shows to set the timinig of the book, she references the presidential elections of 2008. It's not that I mind the characters having political opinions, but it's not central to the novel and is more of an after thought. Many people don't mind this, but in my opinion the book could do without it. I read to be entertained, and not brainwashed about Obama's "super hero" face as Crouch writes in her book. It just weakens the books to me, because I feel that Crouch alienates the reader. (Unless you are a huge Obama fan)

In terms of the story, it's not wholly original, and I felt that Crouch made stereotypical assumptions about "the South", etc.
I like her writing style, it's an easy read.

The books come to an end rather quickly, and I'm not fully convinced that the issues could be resolved that quickly so it seems like a rushed ending.
Overall, there is not a close attachment to the characters. I understand the issues of the characters being emotionally crippled after having their father disappear 20 years earlier, leaving some of the family to question if he was alive, and others to be convinced he'd died. However, some of the central characters are selfish, and it hindered my ability somewhat to care about whether or not they found what they were looking for.
Crouch should consider these things when developing characters. Not all characters have to be likeable, but if you care about their journey and the resolution of their problems, you should.

Crouch does have little gems within this book, she has a good writing style. I would not recommend this book, or read it a second time, but it's still a pretty good book.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Tony Donahoe on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a big man of Crouch's first novel, Girls in Trucks, I was eagerly awaiting Men and Dogs. Well, it's here and I am glad to report, it is every bit as good if not better than Trucks. Reading Crouch's books is like spending time with a great friend. Her style is wholly original, but if pressed I would say it is a little Dorothy Parker meets Lorrie Moore. I hate the whole pigeonholing of literature into genres like chick lit and such, because this is a book men can enjoy just as well as women. Complex characters, an intriguing plot, clever writing with a real warmth for the setting...Men and Dogs has it all. It is the perfect book whether you're sitting on a beach or riding the subway. A great, great read.
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