Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Dog Star Paperback – June 1, 1998
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
As other reviewers have pointed out, the plot is relatively slow and meanders a bit, but is completely believable as a series of events in a real young adult's life. I'm not sure the plot is meant to be the most important part of this book. The book deals with weighty subject matter including suicide, gambling, drunkenness, extra-marital relations, violence, theft, a fatherless household, un and under-employment, and the list goes on. Overall there is a preponderance of uncomfortable themes and negative subject matter.
The character development is excellent, even beyond the main character, Blackie. The main character's raw emotions are channeled daily just as the oppressive summer heat seems to never let up in gritty post-depression Atlanta. The main character is slippery in that he is very hard to feel sorry for, but he is also very difficult to hate. The ever-present emotional angst of the main character makes this book remarkable.
The sometimes florid prose strikes precise, sometimes beautiful, imagery in the reader's mind, and this is one of the more obviously laudable traits of this novel. As on overall impression, I liked being transported to a different time in a familiar place and imagining what post-depression Atlanta would have been like.
My one minor quibble about this novel is that the main character's name is annoying, a complaint leveled by potential publishers of the novel. Since the main character is named Blackie I had to keep consciously reminding myself that he was not African-American throughout the first half of the book. By the second half I had it down-pat. Not that I would have minded an African-American protagonist, but it would have to have been a much different story given inequality of the times.
Overall this novel is a solid, but quite weighty, treatment of coming-of-age in the American South in the 1930s.
The Dog Star is the story of a young man named Blackie who becomes troubled by the sudden suicide of his close friend at reform school. Blackie decides to leave the reform school and go home. What follows is a very linear storyline that is is a bit disjointed, conveying Blackie's troubled relationships with his family and friends, and even with himself.
We meet his mother and siblings, and though he appears to be closer to his sister Pearl, she has problems of her own that are equal to Blackie's. We see Blackie form a sexual relationship with an older woman, but he does not want to be "tied down" so he is rude to her and distances himself from her. And we see Blackie form bonds with other young men in the neighborhood, all of which could lead to legal problems. Other than some light gambling, Blackie also keeps his distance.
The problem is, like Blackie, the reader doesn't know where he's going. Blackie is stuck in that juvenile delinquent stage that many teenagers face after high school. They seek affection, but they are afraid of settling down or lack emotional stability. They have to look for a job, but still want to have fun. They often get into trouble. They are lost souls literally roaming the street to find the answers to life's questions. And most of all, they lack patience.
While Windham captures this fragile and sad state of a teenager perfectly, the story lacks depth. Like I said, it's a bit linear and lacks conflict other than that which Blackie experiences within himself, and which leads to the odd and sad conclusion of the book. As an English major, it was interesting to read a book from the 1950's and see the different grammatical nuances and punctuation used back then. I'm glad I can finally mark this book off my to-read list, but I would not highly recommend it to anyone else.