Wild Dogs Hardcover – Aug 26 2004
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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.
*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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a HUGE Helen Humphrey's fan and am very SAD:( to be still waiting for Wild Dogs to reach me. xo H
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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."