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Wild Dogs [Hardcover]

Helen Humphreys
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 26 2004
THERE ARE SIX people who gather every evening at the edge of the woods, calling their dogs to come back to them, dogs that have turned wild. Amongst the group of owners is Lily, a young woman scarred both physically and emotionally; Jamie, a teen with an attraction to bad company; and Rachel, a wildlife biologist whose tamed wolf leads the pack. Alice, the narrator, has just left an unhappy relationship for the unknown territory of a single life and feels that she is now somehow responsible for the others. But as she moves towards love once more, Alice must come to terms with her own wildness and the price of belonging to someone else.

Wild Dogs is note-perfect, a novel that strips away the conventions of love and passion to reveal deeper, richer truths.


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Product Description

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and exciting Jan. 19 2008
Format:Paperback
I happened upon this book in a basket of "help yourself" at a local Hospice residence. I'm not sure the topic would be soothing to those residing in or attending to someone in a Hospice, but it was just what I needed for an upcoming and long flight from Canada to Chile. I'd not heard of the author or the book; the book just called to me. That made it even more fun to learn what was between the covers. Humphrey writes like a poet, indeed it seems she began her career as such, but it also has a build up of excitement that made it a real page-turner. The details are richly worded without getting in the way of the story's flow. The juxtaposition of the wild dogs to the 'wild' place in each of us made for a most interesting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still Waiting Nov. 23 2011
Format:Hardcover
I have yet to receive this book which according to the order confirmation was to arrive by post the week of November 9 2011.
I am a HUGE Helen Humphrey's fan and am very SAD:( to be still waiting for Wild Dogs to reach me. xo H
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read June 9 2005
By Christina - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small novel that resonates for a long time ... July 6 2007
By C. Schroeder - Published on Amazon.com
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Love is like... wild dogs. If it hunts you down, it will not let you go." June 10 2006
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
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. I lay down under the sweet, anxious sorrow of you."

Fate intervenes, shattering the bonds these strangers have forged. Relinquishing their dreams of recovery, all are changed by the actions that violate the imperturbability of the wilderness. The other characters complete this strange scenario, each leaving an imprint upon a short season of life at the edge of the woods; yet it is Alice who is most changed, embracing the future, her spirit expanded: "The heart is a wild and fugitive creature. The heart is a dog who comes home." Luan Gaines/2006.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Several stories within a story May 28 2006
By V. McGowan - Published on Amazon.com
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED this book July 10 2007
By Gretchen Stone - Published on Amazon.com
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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