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Their Dogs Came with Them: A Novel Hardcover – April 3, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743287665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743287661
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Latino life in 1960s East Los Angeles is the subject of Viramontes's kaleidoscopic and occasionally frustrating first novel (after short story collection The Moths), an amalgamation of troubled young people, a troubled neighborhood and an aggressive storytelling voice. There are the mother-and-daughter preachers; a young woman looking for her missing, mentally unstable brother; an androgynous young woman gang member passing as a man; a clique of boisterous teenage girls intent on protecting themselves; and the unhappy grandparents who attempt to keep one of the girls in check. The constant presence of the shadowy Quarantine Authority (supposedly on the lookout for rabid dogs but more intent on policing residents) and the imminent construction of a freeway that will bisect the district are but two threats to the struggling but vibrant community. All this emerges in fits and starts, with Viramontes somewhat less concerned with plot or character development than with establishing aura. Readers willing to look past the loose narrative construction will find the book's heart in Viramontes's voice: at once terse, energetic and vivid. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The author of a short story collection, The Moths (1995), circles the same territory in this furious stream-of-consciousness depiction of Latino culture in east L.A. from 1960 to 1970. In episodic vignettes, Viramontes follows the daughter of street preachers who is still reeling from a vicious assault; an androgynous, homeless female gang member who has lost her way since her brother left to fight in Vietnam; a group of teenage girls who support each other emotionally as they attempt to navigate between the danger of the mean streets and the old-fashioned discipline of their immigrant relatives; and a young woman who spends all her spare cash and time trying to care for and keep tabs on her mentally ill brother. Clarity is nowhere near the top of the list of Viramontes' concerns, which will frustrate some readers. But those who are up for the ride may find that her emotionally raw novel reads, at times, like a crash course in survival strategies for those immersed in the despair and violence of the inner city. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Olivas on April 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 1985, Arte Público Press published Helena María Viramontes' first book, "The Moths and Other Stories," which has become a classic in Chicano literature. Since then, her short stories have appeared in more than 80 anthologies.

Viramontes published the novel "Under the Feet of Jesus" (Plume Books) in 1995, about a makeshift family of migrant workers. It was met with great critical acclaim and now graces many high-school and college reading lists.

Now, fans of Viramontes' writing can delight in the publication of her new novel, "Their Dogs Came With Them" (Atria Books, $23 hardcover). It possesses Viramontes' trademark poetic grittiness, with well-drawn characters who almost leap from the page.

The novel is a heart-rending but hopeful portrait of lives that are rocked by the turmoil and violence of East Los Angeles during the 1960s.

Asked whether she saw some form of redemption arising from her mostly female protagonists' struggles with poverty, bigotry and governmental abuses, Viramontes responded with characteristic candor:

"If I didn't want to recognize the redemption of their everyday ordeals, why write about them in the first place? I marvel, truly marvel, at the everyday, ordinary ordeals of human life, and I want to give justice to an existence that very few people or readers acknowledge."

In many ways, this sentiment is emblematic of Viramontes' perception of writers and their role in society. She asserts that "serious writers have the responsibility to try and disrupt patterns of thought and behavior that damage the integrity of life. That's why most writers do their best work while living on the fringes of a society.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a graduate student at Harvard in literary studies, I was shocked and saddened to read such an ill-informed review of Viramontes' second and astoundingly luminous novel.

Not only was the review factually incorrect--for this is Viramontes' second novel (not her first, as the reviewer claims), but, far more gravely, utterly incapable of appreciating the artistic power of a truly original and monumental novel. American literary scholars have already heralded Viramontes' new work as the "Middlemarch of Los Angeles," justly comparing it in power and scope with the greatest works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature.

Viramontes stands out among the even most talented of contemporary writers, and her work (including her first novel, "Under the Feet of Jesus," and her many wonderful short stories, including the widely anthologized "The Moths") has already earned her an unforgettable place in the canons of American and world literature. Her work is regularly taught alongside that of Joyce, Steinbeck, and Cisneros, and she is legendary for her innovations in prose and poetic intensity. "Under the Feet of Jesus" has been cited as a "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman," and is now an indelible part of our literary heritage and one of the most groundbreaking novels in decades.

"Their Dogs Came With Them" is Viramontes' "Ulysses"--a contemporary, multi-lingual, prismatic epic that bears no resemblance to the flat, one-dimensional easy-read novels that Publishers Weekly review seems to favor.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Leung on April 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In her two previous books, Helena Maria Viramontes stuns readers with her precise language and uncompromising insights. Their Dogs Came With Them has been long in coming but worth the wait. With this novel Viramontes has certainly created something new and powerful. She offers up the talents and gifts of her first two books and adds a breathtaking use of structure, all of this in the service of a striking story. Many writers are defeated by Los Angeles when trying to write about the city because it suffers, for sure, from muliple-personality disorder. But Viramontes is a master, and in her hands, she turns L.A.'s kinetic energies into a tool for her own purposes. In this vision, the city and the characters are scarred, but not hopeless; battle weary, but resilient. Indeed, Viramontes has written a novel for each of us who have fallen to our knees, but knowing we would stand again, and taller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kalmia on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dear Helena Maria Viramontes,

Thank-you so very much. This novel is tops and I mean the best!!

The excruciating characters came alive to me vicerally. It was

painfully engrossing. Your writing is fierce , courageous , and

compassionate. You have inspired me and I love you for writing

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