Dog on the Cross: Stories

Dog on the Cross: Stories

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by Aaron Gwyn
     
 

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A man miraculously survives a fall from the eighth floor of a drilling rig but is ever after plagued by an unwillingness to live. A preacher loses his ability to speak in tongues and begins to fake it. A young man is intent on suppressing his sinful love for his best friend even though he can think of nothing else. A teenage boy struggles with the temptation of a…  See more details below

Overview

A man miraculously survives a fall from the eighth floor of a drilling rig but is ever after plagued by an unwillingness to live. A preacher loses his ability to speak in tongues and begins to fake it. A young man is intent on suppressing his sinful love for his best friend even though he can think of nothing else. A teenage boy struggles with the temptation of a young girl. A grandmother will stop at nothing to make her grandson famous. These are some of the good citizens of Perser, Oklahoma. And in Aaron Gwyn's debut collection, the people of Perser are unpredictable and unforgettable as they struggle with lapses into sin during the week a young faith healer comes to town.

In his careful articulation of faith and doubt, sin and self-delusion, allegiance to the church and self-glorification, Gwyn reveals himself as a writer of great heart and complexity, creating a world that burns with pain, love, and an odd kind of devotion.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his debut collection, Gwyn (American literature, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) depicts the experiences of a small Pentecostal community in Oklahoma during the week it is visited by a teenaged faith healer. In "Courtship," Jansen spends a good part of his life denying his romantic attraction to his childhood best friend and later college roommate, Dennison. When Dennison loses his hair, his youth, and his confidence, Jansen stays beside him and even helps him get women, hoping that Dennison will eventually have his fill of them. In "The Offering," a woman whose voice was once her instrument of worship is left unable to speak for months after surgery leaves her in a coma. This is a striking collection of quirky stories, strung together with themes of faith and self-discovery. However, the deep, almost obsessive introspection of the characters weighs down the reader like the scrutiny of a small town. Recommended especially for libraries in the region.-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight linked stories cast a baleful light on fear, loathing, and sexual repression in the Bible Belt. Brace yourself for immersion in a world of sinners and saved, backsliders and revivals, where women are often Satan's means of tempting men and two men coupling are the ultimate abomination. It is a world seen up close in the "boring, stale, weary little town" of Perser, Oklahoma, dominated by its First Pentecostal church. The opening stories don't quite work. "Of Falling" contrasts its passive, tight-lipped protagonist's near-fatal fall and excruciating dreams with his posturing wife's well-protected falls at revival meetings, while "Courtship" presents a Perser native who's been in love with another man since they were playmates-though Jansen, scared silly by his church, doesn't see himself as gay. This drawn-out story has a plaintive Carson McCullers quality, but Gwyn flubs Jansen's climactic declaration, compensating with a closing image of heterosexual perversion worthy of Kraft-Ebbing. Then come two effective vignettes: "Against the Pricks" has 14-year-old Gabriel, tormented by self-abuse but cleansed by a revival, lashing out viciously at a sweetly innocent potential girlfriend, while in "In Tongues," not even the pastor is safe from the Devil. Losing the gift of tongues, the Reverend Hassler spews filth from the pulpit, wrecking his ministry. Not all the insights into Pentecostalism are negative-Spencer, a lonely liberal in "Truck," envies his God-struck mother's "simple abandon"-yet the powerful and well-plotted closing pieces are a no-holds-barred indictment of fundamentalism run amok. In "The Backsliders," some kids stumble on two guys having sex in a cave, and an enragedchurch elder batters one of them so hard he kills him. "Dog on the Cross," true to its title, is about a puppy found nailed to an outdoor cross during a weeks-long revival conducted by a mesmerizing teenage preacher. It's an exciting whodunit with an obvious suspect, a reclusive easterner, though the physical evidence points to the evangelists themselves. When Gwyn eventually hits his stride, he's terrific. An auspicious first. Agent: Nat Sobel/Sobel Weber Associates
From the Publisher
"Brace yourself for immersion in a world of sinners and saved, backsliders and revivals....An auspicious first."
Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565127258
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/03/2004
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The characters moving through Dog on the Cross will haunt you long after you put it down. They'll enter your dreams the way the best, most truthful gospel does."
—Tom Franklin, author of Hell a the Breech

"There aren't many writers anymore seriously considering old-testament-style sin and the possibility of redemption—of damnation even—in their work. Fewer still do so with as much wisdom and compassion as Aaron Gwyn. This is Flannery O'Connor territory and most writers suffer by comparison. Gwyn does not. Dog on the Cross is a stunning debut."
—Michael Knight, author of Goodnight, Nobody

Meet the Author

Aaron Gwyn's stories have been published in Louisiana Literature, Glimmer Train, and Black Warrior Review and anthologized in New Stories from the South. He is currently at work on his first novel, Ink, about a tattoo repair artist. He lives with his wife in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is an Assistant Professor of American Literature at UNC-Charlotte.

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