Dogs of God

Dogs of God

4.5 2
by Pinckney Benedict

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"An expansive story told in lush, extravagant prose, Dogs of God is a big book in every sense of the word." —Elizabeth Dewberry Vaughn


"An expansive story told in lush, extravagant prose, Dogs of God is a big book in every sense of the word." —Elizabeth Dewberry Vaughn

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this taut, muscular thriller set in contemporary rural West Virginia, short-story writer Benedict ( The Wrecking Yard ) hurtles the reader toward a chillingly apocalyptic climax replete with high-tech weaponry and old-fashioned treachery. Peopled with an assortment of New South grotesques, the story centers on Goody, a young bare-fisted fighter new to the neighborhood, and Tannhauser, a deranged, 12-fingered backwoods drug lord with a penchant for sadism. They and a host of other odd, not to say perverse, characters are memorably portrayed, due in large part to Benedict's deft use of multiple points of view. The down-at-the-heels atmosphere of the backwoods South is also convincing; the region's tattered history reposes in the land, and the characters both literally and figuratively stumble through it, bumbling onto an overgrown confederate cemetery, an eerie abandoned resort and subterranean, prehistoric chambers as they move toward their inevitable appointment with destiny. Benedict portrays Goody's loss of innocence and painful acquisition of wisdom in prose laced with Appalachian figures of speech, the down-home rhythms of ridge-runner dialect and an undercurrent of menacing violence. A few of the plot elements seem contrived (all dispensable characters neatly kill each other off), and the fates of several compelling characters are left up in the air, but by and large this is an ambitious and skillful literary thriller, not to mention a rip-roaring read. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In this first novel, Benedict continues his exploration of rural West Virginia life begun in his two short story collections, The Wrecking Yard ( LJ 1/91) and Town Smokes ( LJ 5/15/87). As in the short stories, the writing here is strong and vivid. The wide cast of characters includes Goody (a boxer), Dwight (a tourist guide), drug enforcement agents, marijuana growers, gunrunners, illegal immigrants, and a variety of lost and corrupt souls. They live and die in an atmosphere of bleakness and despair, with violence and brutality as constant companions. The novel begins slowly, but, once the characters come together, the action is nonstop (and none of it pleasant). Benedict's style and themes may be easier to digest in short story format, but there is no denying the book's gut-wrenching power. Buy this for fans of the early novels of Cormac McCarthy and Benedict's earlier books.-- Nancy Pearl, Director, Washington Ctr. for the Book at the Seattle P . L .
Mary Ellen Quinn
Somewhere in rural West Virginia is El Dorado, at various times a resort hotel, a Civil War hospital, and a World War II POW camp. Now it's the headquarters of Tannhauser, a ruthless drug dealer. Caught in Tannhauser's orbit are gunrunners, Mexican illegals, and DEA agents, not to mention a number of eccentric and/or corrupt locals, including Sheriff Faktor; Goody, an ex-boxer; Dwight, a tour guide at the Hidden World Caves; and a hermit referred to only as "the anchorite." Violence is the rule in the world these people inhabit, and it permeates every aspect of this isolated place. Goody's rented house is haunted by a husband's brutal murder of his wife; the corpse of a man who died while exploring the caves is preserved for tourists to see; and boars go wild with fear and slaughter each other during a thunderstorm. Benedict, who lives in West Virginia, is the author of two highly regarded short story collections, "Town Smokes" and "The Wrecking Yard". In this, his first novel, individual chapters have the compression of short stories, but he fails to maintain a novel-length narrative flow, and none of his characters sustain interest for the book's 300-plus pages. Still, his language is vivid and assured, his dialogue is skillfully written and convincing, and he creates an atmosphere of unsettling strangeness.

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

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Dogs of God 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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