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Wild Dogs Hardcover – April, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st American Ed edition (April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393060152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393060157
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,335,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Six people stand at the edge of the woods, hoping to lure back their dogs who, released by family members who think they know best, have banded together and run wild. Similarly, the humans who once owned them form an unlikely bond, sharing both the loss of their beloved pets and fear of the people who had the power to send them away. Paying tribute to Faulkner, Canadian novelist Humphreys (The Lost Garden; Afterimage) tells her story from multiple points of view. The narrator of the first half of the book is Alice, who moves out of her boyfriend's home after he condemns her dog to life in the wild. In some of the stronger passages, Alice addresses her new lover, a wildlife biologist, in the second person; also effective is the well-rendered voice of Lily, the "idiot" of the bunch, who suffered brain damage as a result of a childhood accident with fire. Other voices are less distinct, and the surprise revelation of the wildlife biologist's identity will strike some readers as contrived. Concerned with philosophical notions of the innate wildness of humans and the nature of love, the text is plagued by the excessive use of rhetorical, existential questions, though Humphreys poignantly captures the uneasy camaraderie that can arise among strangers. Agent, Frances Hanna. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Every evening six lonely people stand in a field facing deep woods and call for their dogs, beloved pets that were run off by parents, spouses, or lovers. The town's only big employer, a furniture factory, has closed, and the men are drinking too much and taking their anger out on their women, kids, and dogs. The resourceful canines have formed a pack and gone wild, but their six grieving and plaintive humans maintain their vigil nonetheless. There's sad and contemplative Alice, the novel's primary narrator; skateboarder Jamie, whose stepfather beats him; gentle, mentally deficient Lily; Malcolm, an eccentric, possibly dangerous recluse; Walter the hypochondriac;^B and a wolf specialist, with whom Alice falls in love. Told from various points of view, this evocative, unpredictable, and frightening story poetically parses the meaning of wildness. Doesn't the wild have its own order, rules, and demands? Isn't human life wild in its emotional chaos, violence, and anguish? Versatile and nervy Canadian novelist Humphreys, whose works include Afterimage (2001) and The Lost Garden (2002), delves into the deepest mysteries of existence with empathy, imagination, and an earthy and thrilling lyricism. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
55%
4 star
36%
3 star
9%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 11 customer reviews
This is a beautiful story, beautifully written.
Terese Rose
Be warned though, its images, thoughts and feelings stick with you well after you finish the book.
C. Schroeder
If you've ever loved a dog you'll love this book.
Gretchen Stone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christina on June 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I dont even know where to begin with this book. I could not put it down after i started it. Helen Humphreys presents a captivating novel about the two tragedies in life. The tragedy of gaining your hearts desire, and the tragedy of losing it. This book will compel you as you read the story of 7 people that im sure many of us can relate to as they encounter love and loss in their life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Schroeder on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the better novels I've read. The prose is so spare but each word tacitly cuts like a knife through layers of unecessary thoughts to those truly at the core of what it is to love, lose love and suffer grief. I've read 100s of books and none capture the feelings quite like Helen Humphreys can. The amazing thing too is this is done from various perspectives and vastly different people. In a few short pages, I felt I really understood each of these characters and truly cared what happened to them. In less skilful hands this would be almost an absurd story, but it is so believable, and often sad. But there is some hope in there too, about unlikely people helping each other out. It's also a surpringly good glimpse at how little we know about domestic dogs; and how close in behavior they may be to wild. Fascinating. I would give this quiet, vastly underrated novel 10 stars if I could. Be warned though, its images, thoughts and feelings stick with you well after you finish the book. It may even question how you look at love and what it does to a person.
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Format: Hardcover
Wild Dogs is a tale of belonging, yearning and rejection, a group of people joined in a hopeless quest to recover their lost dogs, connected by that hope in a manner that lends urgency to their nightly vigil at the edge of the woods. The wild dogs symbolize impermanence, the futility of ownership, though many are fooled into believing otherwise.

Alice is lonely, vulnerable; it is through her perspective that we view the others, the enigmatic lover she enjoys for so brief a time, relinquished almost as soon as the words are spoken; the emotionally damaged painter, Malcolm, who offers Alice a temporary home; the stray boy, Jamie, battling the demons of adolescence and unhappiness at home with youthful bravado; and the helpless Lily, her innocence a terrible trap that will betray her. Time is suspended for these weeks of waiting and watching; but reality intrudes, breaking the fragile ties of friendships built on mutual need.

Alice quickly realizes the attraction between these strangers, the rebellious boy, the brain-damaged young woman, the confused artist and the research biologist: they are all afraid of the people who have the power to send their dogs into the void. It is only natural to navigate toward shared comfort, to pair up together: "Because we had all suffered the same loss, we bonded with an immediacy that I now realize was premature and foolish." Although Alice is the primary focus of the novel, the others are equally fraught with self-doubt, empathizing with the wild dogs that once were their pets, sensing some of this errant wildness in themselves. Alice falls hopelessly in love with the research biologist, fashioning a romance that may not be all that she hopes for, that leaves her desolate once more: "I lay down with dying in my bones.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By V. McGowan on May 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Being an avid dog-lover, I picked up this book for the obvious reason. Once I started reading, I simply could not put the book down. I got very wrapped up in the details of the people involved in the search for their dogs. The story is filled with sorrow, yet there are many glimpses of incredible joy in the everyday happenings in the lives of the characters and their interactions with each other. Truly enjoyable!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen Stone on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you've ever loved a dog you'll love this book. On the other hand, if you've ever loved a woman you'll love this book. Once I started reading, I simply could not put the book down. Wild Dogs is a tale of wanting to belong; while showing us different ways of handling yearning and rejection. Beautifully written. A joy to read every word.

On the surface, it's about a group of people joined in a quest to recover their lost dogs. The dogs symbolize the futility of ownership (canine and human). A quote from the book that really grabbed me--" The heart is a wild and fugitive creature. The heart is a dog who comes home."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Thern on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This was a beautifully written book which captured a feeling of the sadness of lives going nowhere and the difficulty of forming and maintaining bonds. The characters were well-drawn and sympathetic. My one complaint was the frequent use of the present tense, which slowed the pace down and was a bit confusing since so many of the events were obviously being described by the characters in retrospect. Still a recommended read.
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