Thursday, June 13, 2013

Peter Heller, THE DOG STARS

Hunger Games for grown-ups, recommended by my friend Evan. In a post-apocalyptic universe, where most people have died of the flu, Hig (who pilots a Cessna) and his dog (co-pilot) coexist uneasily with an angry, gun-obsessed neighbor. But one day, when Hig is out flying, he hears a voice on the radio from beyond their little realm--and he takes off to look for what's Out There. It's told first-person, and Hig's voice is a bit difficult to adjust to at first; he drops pronouns, scatters references, abbreviates phrases, which I think is Heller's way of reminding us that language is community property; when the community vanishes, language begins to go as well. But the language is also, at times, lovely. (Heller is a poet.) Like here: "I set down the pack and breathed the smell of running water, of cold stone, of fir and spruce, like the sachets my mother used to keep in a sock drawer. I breathed and thanked something that was not exactly God, something that was still here." I think I have to be done with post-apocalyptic books for a while (not exactly hammock summer fare, as another friend would say), but this was a good one.

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