Sight Hound

( 12 )

Overview

"This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches "his human" that love is stronger than fear. Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, as they step forward with their narratives: Rae's house-sitter; 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
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Sight Hound: A Novel

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Overview

"This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches "his human" that love is stronger than fear. Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, as they step forward with their narratives: Rae's house-sitter; 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." 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.
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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393327397
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/16/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 485,252
  • Product dimensions: 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Sighthound

    At first I wasn't sure about the delivery... lots of different narrators, but I was soon engrossed. I loved the book, the story of a woman and her relationships, not the least of which is with her Irish Wolfhound. It was funny and also very thought provoking. Lots of depth.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Not about the dog, about Pam Houston

    I just finished Sight Hound, and I have to say it was a tough slog getting through it. I liked Houston's 'Waltzing the Cat' and to a lesser degree, 'Cowboys are My Weakness'. This so-called novel doesn't seem like a novel at all, but more of Pam talking about herself once again. I did love the (very) few chapters where Dante, the Sight Hound spoke. Unfortunately, I found Houston's blathering husband and friends to be incredibly boring, neurotic people. Oh, okay, we're all neurotic, but I thought this book was going to be about the dog, not the husband and assorted other sad and angry people. In my estimation, the story became blurred by Houston's unwavering self-indulgence, and was not a novel, but another book 'about' Pam Houston, her friends, and all their foibles. I found it disappointing and annoying, homage not to Dante, but to Ms. Houston.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very cool style of writing

    I loved reading this book because the author wrote from many points of view. Dante's character is wonderful, strong & funny.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I expected

    I was disappointed by this book. I wanted a story about her relationship with the dog, and instead it was just a cast of characters and their weird fetishes and beliefs. Anyway, I stopped before I reached the halfway point, because I had had enough.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    Right on the money

    I read this book last summer and lent it out to people who I thought would appreciate it. Some how I never received it back. I am ordering another copy because this book is priceless. It hits on so many important points that are true to life. After reading this, I truly believe that each animal that enters our life is here to teach us something about ourselves and what is important. An extremely touching and well written book. It will provide you with many 'Aha!' moments.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    This is the story of a woman named Rae and her dog, Dante who te

    This is the story of a woman named Rae and her dog, Dante who teaches his owner that love is stronger than fear. A good book for dog lovers.

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  • Posted December 31, 2008

    Loved this book!

    I was given this book for Christmas, and thought I was going to be reading about a dog and his human. Okay, I like dog stories. It didn't take many pages to understand this book is MUCH more than that. By the time I'd turned the final page, I'd made twelve new friends and had been privvy to their lives - and deaths. I'm planning more time to re-read this wonderful book, because as much as I gained from the first reading, I know there is more waiting for me. The best gift, among some pretty good ones, I've received this Christmas. Great read! Thanks Pam for putting this in print.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2006

    a good waste of your day!!

    if you tend to love animals, or people, and narritives, this is the story for you. this is about a dog named dante, with a playwright owner named rae and their journey down a long cancerous path with dante. this book teaches you to enjoy your pets and the life you live. please read this, this book is amazing. give it a try when your at the beach, or driving on a road trip. page turner, to the max.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2006

    Favorite book of the year

    How often do you find yourself underlining a novel? Well, for me. it is almost never. Sighthoud offers so many profound, quirky, wonderful truths that I couldn't put it down -- or the pen away. This is a great read that features different perspectives from highly recognizable characters -- human, feline and canine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Pam Houston breaks trend

    I've read all of Pam Houstons books and the last few seemed to get repeditive with the theme. This book has a new fresh storyn told in a narative from all the characters, even the dogs. This was a quick read and left you wanting to know the characters longer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2005

    For anyone who has ever loved a dog

    As the mom of a dog newly diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the book was a magical read. Pam Houston perfectly characterizes the bond between people and their pets and gives great tribute to the vets who take care of them. I would highly recommend the book to any animal lover. Also, check out her website for pictures of the real Dante.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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