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Dogs of Winter

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  431 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Heart Attacks is California's last secret spot - the premier mysto surf haunt, the stuff of rumor and legend. The rumors say you must cross Indian land to get there. They tell of hostile locals and shark-infested waters where waves in excess of thirty feet break a mile from shore. For down-and-out photographer Jack Fletcher, the chance to shoot these waves in the company o ...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Oldcastle Books (first published 1997)
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Liquid Comfort - A Surf Story by Cheryl Lee PetroCaught Inside by Daniel DuaneTapping the Source by Kem NunnIn Search of Captain Zero by Allan WeisbeckerThe Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson
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18th out of 64 books — 41 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 708)
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Adam
Are all human plans vanity in the face of nature and the twisted ways of life? Nunn seems to ask this question, focusing on fame, money, spirituality, revenge, and heroism showing them as faint comfort when it comes down. Compared with Straw Dogs and Deliverance this excellently plotted and characterized tale of foolishness, revenge, and violence set in the surreal beauty of the unforgiving wilderness of Northern California and Southern Oregon also treads ground similar to Denis Johnson’s Alread ...more
Scott Foshee
Moody, dark and misty, full of rain, cynicism, murderous waves, shady deals gone bad, deeply flawed characters and the redemptive power of surfing, "The Dogs of Winter" is the second in author Kem Nunn's surf noir California surf trilogy.

"The Dogs of Winter" finds broken down surf photographer Jack Fletcher hooked on booze and pills and living in a ratty hole in Huntington Beach, California. He is divorced, estranged from his daughter, and by his own admission is "no longer cool." He then gets
...more
Lonnie
I liked this one. It reminded me of a hybrid of a pair of movies from the 90's: Point Break and Thunder Heart. The guy is a great prose stylist and I love the feel of his stories. they are dark, yet inviting and there is a disarming twinge of sentmentality to the books I've read by him.
Matt
This to me conveyed real feelings of being a surfer... Beautifully written using correct terminology not hokey dude talk... If you are a real surfer you must read this book
Tim
More literary than my placement (on mystery-suspense shelf) would have you think. Lovely book and harrowing too. A passage: "It [the first wave of a set] was an unnerving spectacle, and a yet a thing to behold full of terror and fluid beauty. The amount of water involved was such that it was like watching a piece of the earth become liquid, as if in some cataclysm, or at the hour of creation. The wave rose first with great mass, like a hill, but this hill was made of liquid, in constant flux, an ...more
Damon Isherwood
Really a thriller, but written against a surfing backdrop. Incredibly evocative of northern californian, the drizzle and pine trees, the cold waters and their mystical waves. Tough plots, and often bleak depictions of humanity, but Nunn is one of those writers who is an unabashed romantic at heart and so all his books have good endings.
John
A remarkable story of obsession and redemption by way of the surfing world. An aging surfing legend who is half Brian Wilson (in Dennis' body) and half Captain Ahab recruits and leads an unlikely group of characters in the search for the holy grail of waves. His obsession disturbs the natural balance of the world they traverse with consequences. Kem Nunn is a master artist at creating memorable, believable characters and weaving them seamlessly into original, gripping plots. The young hotshot su ...more
John Millikin
If you specifically enjoy surfing literature then "Dogs of Winter" is more like a 4 or a 5 star book. For writing alone, however, I could only give it a 3. But it's a strong 3. I really enjoyed this book. If you have ever spent time along the Northern California/Southern Oregon coastline in winter, then you will recognize and appreciate the authenticity of the literary description. Dark, misty, gloomy, sketchy, and yet breathtakingly beautiful all at once, the scenery parallels this thick tale o ...more
Jakekny
A moody and wild surf crime novel set in Northern California. Gorgeous prose. What's not to like? (Oh yes, what happened to so and so was really horrible . . . )
Neven
Nunn's books are often quite dark, bleak, and downright unpleasant, and this one is no exception. 'The Dogs of Winter' bugged me more than usual, though, because it's punctuated with particularly vile crimes and tragedies. If you've read Richard Price's heartbreaking 'Freedomland', you know what sort of thing I mean.

On top of it, Nunn's signature style is muted here. I, for one, really enjoyed his florid descriptions in 'Tapping the Source' and 'Tijuana Straits', so this book read a bit flat to
...more
Brian
Nunn can describe surfing as such a religious experience, it makes you want to go to California and become one of his filthy, booze-soaked, drug-addled, deadbeat characters. This one didn't hook me as hard as Tapping the Source or Tijuana Straits, but it was still very good.
Vicki
Grim but compelling read based on a true story. Abandoned on the streets of Moscow at the age of five, Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs on whom Ivan becomes dependent for his survival. The dogs protect him against roving street gangs and the the military, while Ivan earns coins through begging to buy food to feed himself and the dogs. A heart wrenching survival story, all the more poignant because it is rooted in a brutal part of Russian history.
jcg
Really ugly story. I have no idea what the point was. It was just ugly.
There are long long passages of people hiking to remote places that other people seem to get to quite easily by road. There are pages and pages of pointless bickering conversations. There wasn't really much plot so there is a lot of padding to get the word count up. The motivation of the characters wasn't believable. All in all, a dud. And an ugly one at that.
Larry
This novel is a great entry into the strange and wonderful genre of surfing literature, a literary adventure/thriller which involves surfing the frigid waters of California's remote northwest coves. Even for those who've never surfed, this book will make you feel as if you have. Besides being a chilling page-turner, the prose is beautiful, featuring sympathetic characters and some astonishing scenes of riding the waves.
Josh
I love this guy's novels, known as 'surf noir.' Great characters, unpredictable but satisfying plots, fantastic descriptions of landscape & the sensations/culture of surfing (which are very hard to articulate this well)... And I'm pretty sure they'd be just as enjoyable for someone who doesn't have a prior interest in surfing. Give him a try if you like noir-ish mystery or just good, gritty fiction.
Jennifer Gehle
Since I loves Tapping the Source so much, I thought this novel would be a shoe in for a favorite of mine, but this wasn't the case. I pushed through this novel but the mysteriousness and underground world I expected to find was really not touchable and easily looked over. Nunn's descriptive efforts are still good but the story itself doesn't have the same interest and depth that tapping the source did
Ron
Part noirish surf mystery, part journey of a young man seeking wisdom from a guru, but mostly the almost mystical--Nunn also created the short-lived but brilliant TV series, John From Cincinatti--tale of a middle aged surfer coming to terms with his mortality. A deep, probing work of genius that is essential reading for any male approaching middle-age.
Tom Goelz
Beautifully written. Dark as a fog enshrouded northwest coastline. I was sorry when this one ended. Lots of side trails not fully taken that I wanted to explore a bit more. Visually evocative - easy to get lost in the uncertainty of the journey, knowing where you are without understanding where that actually is.
John
One of the best surf noir books ever. Story of iconoclast big wave surfer gone to the Northwest to make his last stand with his girlfriend. A washed up surf photographer rises to the bait to capture the secret break on film. Indian culture and pathos thread into the mix. Excellent!
Emily Crow
Another reviewer commented on how ugly this story is, which was also my impression. I was sorry I read it. One scene in particular really bothered me with its pointless violence; if it wasn't for that, I would probably have given two stars, as the writing itself isn't bad.
furious
May 12, 2008 furious rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to furious by: john monad
Shelves: mines, gen-fic, noir
wow. compelling & engrossing. i tore thru most of this while on my own quest for mysto spots along the northern california coast. nunn manages to meld the best elements of modern lit & classic crime/noir. this is a dark road, surely, but such is the road to redemption.
Sylvia
May 05, 2008 Sylvia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in big wave surfing.
Towards the end it got a little erratic, but then it pulled together. All in all, well written and fascinating, a graphic look into cultures, histories and lifestyles I am less familiar with, but felt I got to know well through Nunn's descriptions and rhetoric.
Lenny Husen
great book. My son (age 19) just read it and loved it as well. Nunn is an amazing writer. I need to reread this book to write a better review, but basically it is about a middle aged surfer who needs to atone for his sins. The ending was satisfying.
Kristen
An excellent book about a washed-up photographer and surfer who takes on a new project that leads him to Native American tribal lands in Northern CA. Elements of mystery, thriller, and contemplative surf philosophy are expertly combined.
Shawn
Dark and gloomy, but still oddly compelling. Kem Nunn is gifted at bringing broken characters to life and capturing the atmospheric worlds they live in. This book was no exception to that. Plus, there's super, mysto surfing.
Jason Dearen
Surf literature is not an oxymoron. Set in the redwoods of the Northern Coast of Calif. Nunn creates a noir classic set in the world of big wave surfers in a gorgeous, mysterious (or "mysto" in surf lingo) world.
Brian
Amazing book. Basic sweeping POV swap, but straightforward, good story, gritty enough, doesn't mess around.

If you you like noir--and surfing, this is a good one. But it ain't your professor's "literature."
Andre D'elena
Pretty good but it took me a long time to get into it. The ending was a bit 'meh!' I'm told by some fans of this author that 'Tijuana Straits' is a much better book. I will probably read that next.
Aaron Cardinal
another great surf noir novel by nunn- read all his work, all great. you wouldnt think he's a producer on sons of anarchy considering how much better his books are than that shite!
AJ Henning
It wasn't Tapping the Source, but I still enjoyed some of the mystery, loved the conversations, and enjoyed it in general. Nothing earth shattering but a quick unique read.
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Kem Nunn (born 1948) is an American fiction novelist, surfer, magazine and television writer from California. His novels have been described as "surf-noir" for their dark themes, political overtones and surf settings. He is the author of five novels, including his seminal surf novel Tapping the Source. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Irvine.

He has collaborated with producer David Mi
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More about Kem Nunn...
Tapping the Source Tijuana Straits Chance Pomona Queen Unassigned Territory

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