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The Shape of the Final Dog and Other Stories Hardcover – September 13, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for THE SHAPE OF THE FINAL DOG by Hampton Fancher:

 

“Hampton Fancher’s kaleidoscopic reality is delicately fractured, skewed, but rendered all the more true. Inhabitants of his world are both scheming strivers and wide-eyed dupes, shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves, who in all their strangeness churn up a wealth of tender feelings from the depths. The beguiling stories in The Shape of the Final Dog are set in a place where anything can happen—and things add up.”

—Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, author of The Encyclopedia of the Exquisite

 

“Hampton Fancher has worlds falling out of his sleeves. His fictions are full of irresistible stealthy voices, surreal U-turns, and vernacular wit—Buñuel meets Sherwood Anderson.”

—Jonathan Lethem

 

“Darkly funny, seductive, essential stories that pulse in the imagination. In these fearless high-wire trickster tales, Hampton Fancher offers something rare and beautiful; he writes as Nijinsky once danced, willing to risk it all.”

—Mary-Beth Hughes, author of Double Happiness

 

"Hampton Fancher's stories don't just tap dance at the edge of the abyss: they tap dance while juggling while wearing a crab costume while channeling Shakespeare. They are absurd and real and amazing."

—Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

About the Author

Hampton Fancher is the original screenwriter for Blade Runner and the writer and director of The Minus Man (winner of the Grand Prix Jury Award, Montreal Film Festival). Born in East Los Angeles, he now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; 1st edition (September 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158230
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,181,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Kindle Edition
The opening short story in this collection, "The Black Weasel", follows a men's washroom attendant who flees his failed job in New York and slinks home to try to regain his old job as a carnival barker. The return is filled with brief bits about the characters who revolve around the carnival. That story sets up the theme, if you want to call it that, of this collection - the freaks, losers and oddballs who exist on every rung of society.

Back in 2010 Donald Ray Pollock released his book, Knockemstiff, which was a powerful, unflinching and brutal collection of linked stories about the profoundly damaged denizens of an abandoned nowhere town. To my mind that book set the standard for the literature of dismal, hopeless and grimy depravity. One reviewer observed that reading those stories was like "crunching on a mouthful of your own broken teeth".

I mention that book only to set this one into context. While it is similar, it is not always or even usually aiming for the stomach churning kill shot. These too are tales of losers, cons, failures and deluded outcasts, but they are not tales of the irredeemably lost. There is black humor, sometimes a generous or forgiving gesture, and sometimes a hint of hope somewhere around the corner.

That said, there are no stories, as such. These chapters consist of moments, events, brief episodes, and serve mostly to illustrate the classical idea of tragedy - the invoking in the reader of "pity and fear".

What you get here is an author at play, fooling with words and feelings, and fooling to some extent with the reader. Because he does this so well, we forgive him, even if we end up being a little unnerved.
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