Sight Hound: A Novel by Pam Houston | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Sight Hound

Sight Hound

4.1 12
by Pam Houston

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The long-awaited novel; a very special love story; from the best-selling author of Cowboys Are My Weakness.
This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches "his human" that love is stronger than fear (the dog has always known this). Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, and they step forward with their


The long-awaited novel; a very special love story; from the best-selling author of Cowboys Are My Weakness.
This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches "his human" that love is stronger than fear (the dog has always known this). Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, and they step forward with their narratives: Rae's house-tender; her therapist; two veterinarians; and an anxiety-ridden actor, Howard, who turns out to be as stalwart as Dante himself. As the "seer" who hunts by sight rather than smell, Dante has some things to add, as does Rose, another dog who lives at Rae's heels, and Stanley the cat. Among and above these myriad voices, Rae voices her own challenges. With the wit and dead-on candor we've come to expect from Pam Houston, Sight Hound unfolds a story that illuminates the intangible covenant between loved ones. Here, dogs and humans are simply equal creatures, looking to connect and holding on for dear life when they do. Reading group guide included.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Postfeminist toughness and post-hippie sentiment are the alternating currents of this wry, tender novel by Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness; Waltzing the Cat; etc.) about a Colorado playwright and her beloved Irish wolfhound. Rae hasn't had much luck with men, but her love for her dog Dante is pure and uncomplicated. When he is diagnosed with cancer, she puts all of her energies into prolonging his life, volunteering him for experimental surgery. The ups and downs of the three years he spends in remission are narrated from the perspective of the motley friends who float in Rae's out-sized orbit. Chief among these is Howard, the adorably histrionic actor whose love is Rae's main consolation for the looming loss of Dante; there's also Darlene, Rae's tough-as-nails housekeeper, who keeps things running at the ranch while Rae's at her Denver apartment or traveling to exotic places. Then there's restless, jaded Jonathan, Rae's fellow playwright and best friend; Jodi, the young bride of a surrealist painter, who moves to Colorado and finds a soul mate in Rae; Dr. Evans, the driven vet who labors to save Dante; and Brooklyn Underhill, Dr. Evans's idealistic young ex-soldier assistant. And of course, Dante has his own say, as does Rae's rambunctious second dog, Rose, and Darlene's cat, Stanley. Houston isn't afraid to venture into boggy terrain-readers who squirm at the notion that dogs have human "moms" and "souls as deep and authentic as anything in creation" will resist being carried along at first-but the novel's humor and irony are bracing, and different voices provide welcome contrasts in tone. Houston's gift for capturing the dynamic of unorthodox webs of relationships is on pleasing display in this gruffly warmhearted novel. Agent, Liz Darhansoff. (Jan.) Forecast: Fans of Anne Lamott and Michael Cunningham's early work will appreciate Houston's similar way of dealing with love and friendship. Six-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"It's funny how love is both harder, and easier, without language," says Dante, one of the narrators in this new book from Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness). Dante, who quotes Buddha and Lao-tzu, has been fighting a losing battle with cancer, and now he wants to teach Rae, his owner, how to hope, love, and live in a world without him. Dante is an Irish wolfhound and one of the wisest creatures ever to grace the pages of a novel. Along with Rae's therapist, housekeeper, several friends, two veterinarians, new husband, Rose the new dog, and Stanley the cat, Dante and Rae explore what happens "when the big questions collided with the small ones." Houston has crafted the truly remarkable story of a woman who has spent her life convinced that hoping for something was the sure way to lose it and then finds that the life and death of her dog is the beginning of understanding a new way of being. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Houston draws readers in to experience the intimate bonds among her characters, not only through her protagonist's ups and downs with her friends, but even more through her special relationship with her Irish wolfhound, Dante. On the one hand a fiercely independent playwright who travels the world, Rae is also a woman beset by insecurities and who has not had the greatest success with her "people" relationships. Her love for Dante has been her anchor during rockier times, and when the dog is diagnosed with bone cancer, Rae begins a journey to realize that truly living means not hiding from pain, but savoring the sweetness in spite of loss. The story is told not only through Rae's own eyes, but also through the eyes of Dante and a diverse cast of characters, including Rae's prickly housekeeper, her dark and brooding best friend, and the doctor who treats her pet. Whether from the perspective of a human or an animal, the tone is witty and warm. Houston's ability to reveal the flaws in each of her characters invites readers to know them on a more personal level. Fans of the author's short-story collections and new readers alike are in for a treat with Houston's first novel.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A cancer-stricken, three-legged Irish wolfhound named Dante embodies the Wisdom of the Ages, in this fervent debut novel from Houston (Waltzing the Cat, 1998, etc.). .It's the story of Colorado playwright, ranch owner, and animal lover Rae Rutherford, told by various narrators (including the eponymous mutt), most of whom have been touched somehow by Dante's serene stoical presence. Among them are: Rae herself (remembering her actress mother and considering her own possible bisexuality, while tearfully awaiting Dante's demise); her emotionally troubled cross-dressing actor husband Howard (he's not gay, however); "the best goddamn veterinary surgeon in America" and his Gulf War vet student (both care for Dante); Rae's forthright ranch-sitter Darlene (who tartly recalls her employer's misadventures with undependable men); and assorted nonhumans, such as Rae's already Faithful and Obedient "next dog" Rose and Darlene's neutered tomcat Stanley (who at least has a nasty sense of humor). The novel is ostensibly "about" Rae's late-blooming maturity as contented spouse, responsible steward to the earth and all creatures great and small, and confident sexual being. But it keeps circling back to how courageous and inherently knowing her canine companion is (while narrating, Dante approvingly quotes Lao-Tzu and Buddha, to nobody's surprise). Houston can't keep the animal out of the book even for a few pages (e.g., at her wedding to Howard, "Dante walked me down the aisle, of course"). And when the dog is finally "put down," it's a scene whose effulgent absurdity rivals Dickens's notoriously lachrymose description of the death of Little Nell. Some people will love this novel. Well, some people watchFear Factor and The Jerry Springer Show. A feel-good Reader's Digest anecdote spun out to booklength. Agent: Liz Darhansoff/Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Pam Houston divides her time between her ranch in Colorado and the University of California at Davis, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program. She has been a frequent contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, and her writing appears regularly in More and other publications. She in the author of the best-selling Cowboys Are My Weakness.

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