Men and Dogsby Katie Crouch
Twenty years later Hannah's new life in San Francisco is unraveling. Her marriage is on the rocks, her business is
When Hannah Legare was 11, her father went on a fishing trip in the Charleston harbor and never came back. And while most of the town and her family accepted Buzz's disappearance, Hannah remained steadfastly convinced of his imminent return.
Twenty years later Hannah's new life in San Francisco is unraveling. Her marriage is on the rocks, her business is bankrupt. After a disastrous attempt to win back her husband, she ends up back at her mother's home to "rest up", where she is once again sucked into the mystery of her missing father. Suspecting that those closest are keeping secrets--including Palmer, her emotionally closed, well-mannered brother and Warren, the beautiful boyfriend she left behind--Hannah sets out on an uproarious, dangerous quest that will test the whole family's concepts of loyalty and faith.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Charlotte Observer
[an] indulgent chick-lit read"Marie Claire"
riveting.... dive right in."Complete Woman"
[A] hot read for a hot day.... In this arresting and often very funny tale, Crouch, best-selling author of Girls in Trucks, makes a case for the redemptive power of uncompromising loyalty and love."Coastal Living"
Self-sabotaging heroines have made for amusing reading since Jane Austen, and Katie Crouch is as good at them as she is at titles.... Who can resist a local accent 'so complex it allows a woman to simultaneously seduce and reprimand in one single word'? Crouch's comic timing is a treat, as is her eye for minor details, like Palmer's damaged rescue dog, who can't bark but merely whispers 'oof.'"Tricia Springstubb, The Cleveland Plain Dealer"
Crouch's prose is crisp and full of engaging details."Pam Kelley, The Charlotte Observer"
as in her best-selling Girls in Trucks, [Crouch] writes with a dark, twisty, but approachable Southern charm."Andrea Griffith, Library Journal
San Francisco Chronicle
- Little, Brown and Company
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Men and DogsA Novel
By Crouch, Katie
Little, Brown and CompanyCopyright © 2010 Crouch, Katie
All right reserved.
TWO DAYS BEFORE Hannah’s father disappeared, he took her out in his boat.
It was an aluminum boat, flat and small with a pull-operated motor. Before they left, her father checked the gas and oil levels. Hannah held Tucker, the dog, on a leash.
Hannah was still small then. Eleven years old. Her hair was streaked with green from afternoons spent in the neighbor’s pool.
She wasn’t pretty. She had her father’s powerful features, and they were too large for her face. She wore a long T-shirt and red sneakers. Her bathing suit snaked up in bright lines around her neck. She wasn’t unhappy. She’s always been good at waiting.
There was no plan for the day. There never was.
The Legares were a family who navigated by the outlines of Buzz’s whims. The children had become excellent at collecting information. It was a survival tactic. They eavesdropped, they spied. Hannah’s brother taught her how to open and reseal mail over a pot of steaming water.
That morning there had been a fight. Hannah listened to the dull murmurings of it through the bedroom wall, the voices spiking in volume, then falling flat to silence. Shortly after, Buzz stepped out into the hall.
I’ll take Hannah, he said.
His voice through the door.
Her mother’s laugh.
Take her to China if you want to, she heard her mother say. I don’t care.
Hannah sat up. It was time to go.
Hannah, now thirty-five, remembers some details perfectly clearly, as if they happened just a moment ago. They bounce in her head, meaningless shards of color and sound. When she is ordering coffee. When she is in line to get on a plane.
Other things she knows she should recall—large events and happenings—now somehow eradicated. Sometimes she squeezes her eyes shut and scrapes her mind, trying to get to them.
She still has this list. Items she and her father took on the boat trip, written in an eleven-year-old’s cursive on Hello Kitty paper, carefully folded and stored.
- 1 jug of water
- 3 bottles of Coke
- 4 cans of Budweiser
- 2 bologna sandwiches
- 1 net
- 1 package chicken necks
- 1 portable radio
- 1 fishing pole
- 2 hats
- 1 bottle of sunscreen, SPF 15
- 1 dog
When they were ready, Hannah untied the bowline and waited on the dock while her father pulled the cord. The engine sneezed, rumbled slightly, and died.
Damn it, Buzz said.
He looked up at his daughter and smiled.
Don’t tell your mother.
She nodded. There were going to be many things she wouldn’t tell her mother.
The boat started. Buzz steered them away from the Boat Club and turned the engine knob all the way to the right. Hannah stared at the shrinking land.
Always nice to leave, isn’t it? her father said. Where should we go? China?
I don’t know.
We’ll send them a postcard.
You’re right, no postcard.
How many bones are in the body?
Two hundred six.
Hannah’s father was a doctor, and she planned on being one, too.
How many cells?
One hundred trillion.
One hundred trillion, her father repeated, looking out at the water. He took a swallow of beer.
He was tall and, at forty-one, still lean from runs around the Battery. People remembered him as the high school track star. Buzz Legare wasn’t staggeringly handsome, but he was disarming. People wanted to be near him. Men pointedly used his first and last name in conversation. Hannah noticed that waitresses lingered after taking an order, even when her mother was there.
Aren’t you going to crab? he asked. We brought all of these chicken necks.
Hannah sighed. She didn’t want to crab. She wanted to read about Kirk Cameron.
Pretty soon a day on the boat with your dad will be the last thing you want to do, he said. Pretty soon, it’ll all be about makeup and boys.
OK. I’ll crab.
Buzz turned on the radio. He always sang. He’d start out with a hum, and then would become overwhelmed with the desire to perform. He never knew the words. He didn’t care.
Wake me up before you LA-la
Go-go, Hannah said.
Are you sure?
I learned the words so I can lip-synch them.
Buzz cocked his head.
We pretend to sing them. My friends and I. Like on a show.
Who pretends? he said, casting his line.
Everyone. It’s a show.
Do me a favor, kid. Don’t pretend. Just sing.
She looked at him, mouthing, Wake me up before you—
Out loud, he said.
It was midday, and men, both black and white, were sitting out in the sun, legs spread, fishing poles in their hands. They stayed on separate docks, but their children spilled into the river together, floating side by side on Styrofoam boards. Some of them waved. Hannah waved back.
Suddenly, a scream cut through the sound of the motor. Hannah jerked her head toward the shore. On one of the docks, people were running and gathering around something lying flat.
Kevin! someone shouted.
A woman was crouching, shaking a boy’s shoulder.
Kevin! Will someone—Kevin?
Hannah’s father knocked about the boat like a large caught fish, swearing as spray lurched up behind with sick, slapping sounds. They slammed into the dock.
A boy had been stung by a bee. He was in shock. His throat was swollen, and his tongue was the size of a pickle.
I’m a doctor, Buzz told the boy’s mother. He always stood up a little taller when he said this. Hannah, get my doctor’s bag. Center console, in the flare box.
Hannah ran back to the boat, found the flare box, and retrieved the bag, a perfect leather triangle that opened and closed with a reassuring snap. Inside, set rows of neatly arranged syringes, bottles, and rubber tubes. One of her favorite things to do was to put her hand inside. It was always cool, as if it required its own separate air.
Later, Hannah looked up what would have happened if her father hadn’t stopped to help that day. The bee venom was almost as lethal as cyanide for the boy. When the tip of the stinger pierced his skin, an army of histamines split from the heparins and flooded his body. Water was released from the cells, causing his skin to strain against the liquid. He would have turned blue and choked on his own tongue while his mother watched.
Afterward, a party. The boy’s father brought out another cooler of beer, and the neighbors came, carrying plastic folding chairs and bags of potato chips and a great bowl of pink, curling shrimp. Candy-lipped mothers rushed back and forth with more food. The afternoon poured away.
We have to go, Buzz said after a while. Thank you for the good time.
So we’ll come see you, Doc, the boy’s mother said. She was leaning into him slightly. You’re our doctor now.
Buzz looked down at her and squeezed her shoulder. There was a pause, then he broke away and began running. Hannah and the others watched, openmouthed, as he did a cannonball off the dock.
He’s swimming! the boy screamed. The doctor is swimming!
He ran after Hannah’s father and flung himself in the water. Now people all over the dock were following Buzz. They jumped in with huge splashes, showing off awkward half dives in their shirts and shorts.
Come on, Hannah! her father yelled. He spouted water through his lips.
No, that’s OK, she said. She was worried about her hair. She’d sprayed it up, a proud open lily.
She shook her head. The boy’s mother was swimming near her father. She gave him a little splash.
Hannah, he called. How many times a day does a human breathe?
How many heartbeats?
A hundred thousand.
Come on, sweetie.
Come on, honey.
There won’t always be a why.
They were all waiting. Her father, the not-dead boy, his mother, the strangers. It was April 6, a day she would come to circle in red each year and label: dad. 1985. What was happening? Hannah Legare can tell you. It was the year of New Coke. The number one song was “One More Night.” Christa McAuliffe was slated to ride the Challenger. Ronald Reagan was sworn in for a second term. As for the Legares—they were still a family. Hannah, eleven; Palmer, thirteen; Daisy, thirty-six; Buzz, forty-one.
On April 6, Hannah was a plain sixth grader with a bad perm. She was a bit scared of the water, and was shivering on a dock. She closed her eyes and listened to her heart, then held her breath to try to make it stop. It didn’t, so she jumped, because her father told her to.
Excerpted from Men and Dogs by Crouch, Katie Copyright © 2010 by Crouch, Katie. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Katie Crouch is the author of the bestselling novel Girls in Trucks. Her writing has also appeared in Tin House, Glamour, and McSweeney's. She lives in San Francisco, a city filled with men and dogs, one or two of which reside with her from time to time.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I think this book is totally worth it! It was nothing i expected, it was even better than what i expected! Though its not really appropriate for 11 or 12 year olds. Thats the downside of it. Overall, its reaaally good.
such a real life book. A must read. My daughter loved it to and finished it in one night
Kept my interest the entire time.
I loved this book - I didn't want to put it down or want it to end. Great characters, storyline. This is not your typical run of the mill novel. Very original - great characters!
I'm only 50 pages through the book, but it hasn't caught my attention yet. So far, it's boring and doesn't seem to be written as well as it should. I'm going to give it a bit more of a chance by reading a few more chapters, but if it doesn't get any better soon, I'm giving up on this book. As of right now, I do not recommend it to teens.
I usually don't do book reviews because most of the time I am very happy with the stories. And I was very happy with this story up untill I find out the ending of the book. I feel like the supporting characters all have learned a life lesson and also grown in their personalities. But I feel the main character did not learn anything from the circumstances that her actions put her in, and I feel that there was no personal growth within herself or her choices.
The defining moment of Hannah's life was the disappearance of her father. Her father, a hero whose medical skills saved the life of a child in front of her. Her father, who disdained convention and made life interesting. Her father, who went out in a boat when Hannah was eleven and never returned. Everyone agreed that he must have drowned, but without a body, Hannah refuses to believe this is true. She grows up and becomes successful, but still checks out older men on the street of every town she goes to, hoping against hope that she will see the face of her father. She refuses to believe that any other man won't also leave her so she spends her time leaving them first, or making them leave her by her bad behavior. John, her husband, has just reached his limit with Hannah and her drinking and infidelity. Hannah goes home to Charleston to try to put her life back together. She spends her days talking with her brother Palmer, her mother and stepfather and her high school boyfriend. Can she solve the mystery of why her father left her behind? Katie Crouch has written a compelling tale of how women's lives are shaped by their experiences with their fathers. Hannah cannot heal and have a successful relationship until she puts her first relationship into focus. Women readers will see themselves in Hannah's longing for her father, and men will discover how important they are in creating strong, independent women. This book is recommended for readers of modern fiction and who are interested in family relationships and how secrets can tie up lives for many years.