Friday, April 8, 2011

Doggone Good Reads: Judy S. Reviews "I Thought You Were Dead"

For Paul Gustavson, a hack writer for the wildly popular For Morons series, life is a succession of obstacles. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a debilitating stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, and a new pair of running shoes (he’s promised himself to get in shape). And then there’s Stella, the one constant in his life, who gives him sage advice, doesn’t judge him, and gives him unconditional love. However, Stella won’t accompany Paul into his favorite dive bar. "I'll roll on dead carp, I'll even eat cat turds, but that place grosses me out." Stella, you see, is Paul's aging Lab-shepherd mix, and she knows Paul better than he knows himself.

In I Thought You Were Dead, author Pete Nelson delivers a novel that is all at once heartwarming, heartbreaking, and heart-wrenchingly funny. Most of all, it’s a story that proves that when a good dog is by your side—especially one with whom you can have an engaging conversation—life can be full of surprises.

Judy says:
"Paul is a divorced Massachusetts writer famous for his book 'Windows 95 for Morons'. Stella is his dog, part yellow lab and part German Shepard. They have frequent conversations about life. Paul is flying home to visit his dad, who has just been hospitalized with a stroke. Stella wants to know if he, Paul, is going to become the alpha dog of his pack if his father dies. Paul says, no, that would be his brother's lot. Stella asks, 'You aren't even going to try?' Such is the dry humor in their daily banter, and quite possibly the best part of the book.

Soon after Paul returns things start to pile up for him in the not-going-well category. Stella is 15--ancient in dog years. Paul is feeling guilty about his father. Also, he is no longer comfortable with the mutually open-ended nature of his relationship with his girlfriend, Tamsen. It deteriorates rapidly from there.

[Spoiler Alert] I'm not going to lie. I didn't care as much after Stella disappeared from the book. But I stuck it out because I wanted to see what happened to Paul in his relationships. And I'm glad I did because otherwise I would have missed out on his enlightenment, redemption and a rather touching ending."

Judy gives this one a 3 Kleenex rating, meaning "Pretend you have a cold and have one or 2 clean one's ready."

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