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The Dog Stars Kindle Edition
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|Length: 322 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller's The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community--McMansions built along the edge of a runway--which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. Hig spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he's lost: his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it's only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, and transformative, this novel is a rare combination of literary and highly readable. --Chris Schluep
Amazon Exclusive: Author Peter Heller on the Star of The Dog Stars
Our Hero, Hig, lives at a little country airstrip which he shares with his beloved blue heeler Jasper, and a mean gun nut named Bangley. It's nine years after a super-flu has killed 99.7% of the people on the planet. Hig sleeps out under the open sky at night with Jasper. He does it because he loves to see the stars, and because it's safer: if marauders come he won't be trapped in one of the nearby houses.
He used to have a book of the stars, but now he doesn't, so when he's lying out at night he makes up constellations. Mostly they are animals, and he makes one for his best friend Jasper. The Dog Stars. It's Hig's way of reinventing the lost world, and keeping in touch with the things he loves.
Jasper, to me, is the star of the book. He is fiercely loyal, and he gives Hig something to live for when there is not much else to hold on to.
- Publication date : August 7, 2012
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Vintage (August 7, 2012)
- File size : 2448 KB
- Print length : 322 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B007GZELF2
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,163 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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“… at night you can’t bear to hear your own breath unaccompanied by another … The Pain is lying beside your side, close. Does not bother you with the sound even of breathing.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
“I still dream Jasper is alive. Before that my heart will not go.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
“I’d say it was a relief to have at last nothing, but I was too hollow to register relief, too empty to carry it … Nothing to lose is so empty, so light, that the sand you crumble to at last blows away in a gust, so insubstantial it’s carried upwards to shirr into the sandstorm of the stars. That’s where we all get to. The rest is just wearing thin waiting for wind.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
The world in Peter Heller’s THE DOG STARS is a post-apocalyptic one. The United States, and presumably the rest of Earth, has been drastically depopulated by a variant strain of influenza, and many of the survivors struck with a blood and body fluid-born disease that causes a slow, wasting death. All this against the background, apparently, of a climate warming that’s killing off other species.
Heller’s hero here, known only to the readers as Hig, who avoided both illnesses, lives at an abandoned rural airstrip north of Denver. Hig’s only neighbor is Bangley, a personally uncommunicative older man, a weapons enthusiast, and a firearm’s marksman. Bangley is a take-no-prisoners survivalist whose working philosophy is to shoot any and all intruders who trespass into a defensive perimeter routinely patrolled by Hig in a Cessna 182. While Hig sees the necessity for an association with Bangley and his precautions, the harshness and bareness of the relationship is excoriating the humanity from the former’s soul.
Then, Hig suffers a loss which compels him to re-establish his connection with what may remain of his own diminishing humanity.
THE DOG STARS is perhaps the best novel I’ve read in many months.
The author’s ability to portray, from the perspective of Hig’s stream of consciousness - a narrative device which some reviewers don't appreciate - and experiences, the solitude and despair of an inner Aloneness and a resurrection from such is what makes the story a triumph of writing.
Man is a social animal. To think and/or attempt to live otherwise is an ultimately destructive folly. That is the great lesson of THE DOG STARS.
When I read this book, I was reminded of Tolstoy's line - "There is nothing great where truth, simplicity, and beauty are not present." This book hits all three, although they come in atypical and, at times, devastating forms. There are passages in this book that are more beautiful, more achingly honest, about true loss than almost anything else I have read, and they are all the more powerful because of the poetic simplicity of the prose, the sparing and economical word choice - the feeling you get that if anything else was said, it would not only be nonessential or redundant, it could finally crush the spirit beyond the possibility of recovery.
This book reminds you that the end of the world is not only a subjective expression but a completely subjective feeling; for some, the end is not real at all, for some the end happens nearly immediately, and for a few, the end doesn't happen until the person they are is gone and the reason for continuing to struggle to live is merely due to "curiosity." A chilling reason, but perhaps accurate. The mundane everyday drudgery is punctuated by sudden moments of pure horror, disgust, and savagery. During the span of one evening reading this book, I nearly vomited and then later cried harder than I would like to admit.
Some have complained about the clipped, stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling, but I think that is apropos for this tale. After all, when the end comes for the world and pretty much everyone is gone, what else would you have to hear, or listen to, than your own thoughts?
If all civilization came to a shuddering stop, what would enable the survivors to survive long-term? Would it be the homicidal ape that we are, the ability to kill and trap resources the most effectively, or would it be the better angels of our nature? Would it be the willingness to drop the gun, drop the sword, even if we had every reason to shoot or stab? What would really keep us alive? Perhaps more important, what would make us want to keep living?
I hope you have as rewarding an experience reading this book as I did. It will crush you, it will disturb you, but it will also lift you up- maybe you will even soar.
Top reviews from other countries
Initially, the lack of punctuation and unusual sentance structure made me read haltingly, but I got used to it quickly and found it made me concentrate even more on what was being said, there was no skim-reading, I wanted to know exactly what was being described. In some books I feel the lack of punctuation etc is pointless, but here I feel it really added to the book, it wouldn't have been the same without it's structure. It added depth to Hig's personality, gave him his own way of thinking, after all, we don't 'think' in perfect sentances or talk to ourselves in them.
I've never done a book review before, but I genuinely think a person would be missing something from having passed this book over.
First, it somehow manages to be genuinely life affirming. Often post-apocalyptic books just throw nasty stuff together to show how nasty the apocalypse would be and then the book ends. Job done. Heller weaves everything together to make sense. What seems like just a bunch of stuff happening to a guy waiting to die, actually forms a complete whole where our guy grows. One might even go so far as to say a novel. And a novel with a happy ending that makes you happy. If this sounds like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, then remember this is a book about the world ending. And what you do next.
Second, the important relationships don’t turn out to be the ones you think they are – or how you think they are – or… well, I guess I’m saying that the people and the relationships surprise you. The characters are much more complete than they initially seem to be, and that happens in a completely natural way. The lead character, who I found alienating on unlikeable, grows into something more alongside the people he meets, and one relationship in particular has turned on its head by the end of the book.
I still don’t really like the style and it still cuts a little too close to all the other post-apocalyptic novels out there (I’m aware there are plenty of people who like this much more than I) – this is no The Road. But it grows on you as it goes along, and it achieves something that genre rarely manages: it makes you feel better about the human race.
I would give this a solid 5 stars if it weren't for these 2 things...
The style of writing - it is really bad literature (I couldn't care less about things like this usually, but this is so obvious and annoying. It makes my failed gcse literature look really good lol), everything is in short sentences, without commas sometimes, and sometimes it feels like it just doesn't make sense... example "They were not even not pros. They were crouched together as one target at this distance one alone filled the scope, way more than filled it. They were farmers insurance men mechanics. Probably. Haplessly clustered. But. I shifted the scope, just the slightest pressure from the inside of my shoulder, and swept them and they had guns, each one."
I eventually stopped finding it as irratating once I imagined this is how the man, not the author talks.
The second thing, and this isn't much, is the constant references to different guns like saying guns are an AR-10.308, or M4 assault rifle etc. I know nothing about guns so don't know what they look like.
Despite these things, i really enjoyed it and think anyone into apocalyptic reads should not give this a miss.
I approached this book with trepidation as I started, but after a couple of chapters I found myself being pulled into the world of 'Higs' present life and for the first time in a while, I became fascinated by the written-style. A style at first that is slightly difficult to comprehend but improves with time.
The less you know about the plot, the more impressive is the impact of the story. The basic necessities are that 'Higs' and Bangley have miraculously survived a virus that has reduced the world to a very low number of a population. But Higs knows how to fly a small aircraft and maybe because of this talent, he has a different perspective of the situation.
Peter Heller manages to convey a poetic approach to making this story work so well. This is a book to pay attention to, it's very carefully written and caused this particular reader to be in awe of a master of the written word. I adored this book and it makes it's valid points well throughout the story. Highly recommended.
At first I thought the ‘writing’ was strange - couldn’t get to grips with ‘is Hig speaking or thinking’, but it did not take long to get used to it and eventually I liked it - it’s refreshingly different.
It’s a great story, thought provoking, definitely a realistic scenario.
Believable-violence (not Hollywood Rambo), excellent humour (in the right places).
Money well spent, hope for a sequel, meanwhile I will try another of the authors books.