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Red Dog, Red Dog

3.04  ·  Rating Details ·  278 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
A National Bestseller and a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

One of the most powerful, gripping works of fiction to come out of Canada, Red Dog, Red Dog is Patrick Lane's virtuoso debut novel.

An epic novel of unrequited dreams and forestalled lives, Red Dog, Red Dog is set in the mid-1950s, in a small town in the interior of B.C. in the unnamed Okanagan Valley. The nove
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by McClelland & Stewart
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsBreaking Dawn by Stephenie MeyerThe Host by Stephenie MeyerThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferCity of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Best Books of 2008
361st out of 1,551 books — 6,860 voters
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Repetitive Titles and Titles That Are Repetitive
20th out of 57 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 02, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Patrick Lane's beautiful imagery juxtaposed with the "Stark" realities of its characters was in itself a feat. As I read, I felt what is at the heart of this first (!)novel, is a long, melancholy song. Very moving.
Dec 12, 2010 Kelli rated it did not like it
Can I give negative stars?
Worst. Book. Ever. The End.
Michael Estey
Apr 04, 2013 Michael Estey rated it it was amazing
A Book Review

Red Dog Red Dog
by Patrick Lane

It amazes me. Settlers crossing North America in the 1800's.

The hardships they had to endure. Covered wagons, hostile Indians, winter. Food. Eating their dogs.

Hard to believe, in this day and age just how large North America really was. To cross the continent, the trip took months.
People were totally ignorant of the dangers and just weren't prepared for such a journey.

The story opens in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairies, with just such settlers
Mar 21, 2012 Flanno rated it did not like it
This book really wasn't my cup of tea. I DEFINITELY wouldn't have picked it out by myself, but it just happened to be a requirement for the English course I am taking at University. Our professor wanted us to read it because it is set in the Okanagan during the 1950s, which is where I am from (the Okanagan - not the 1950's) and have lived all my life. I expected a beautiful, sunny novel, but what I got was ANYTHING but. Full of rape, incest, violence, animal cruelty, murder, suicide, and vulgar ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Isidore rated it it was ok
The novel begins with a bang, a stunning opening chapter followed by five almost as vivid, but then narrative thrust is lost amidst a welter of irrelevant characters and explorations of the lives of the protagonist's parents and grandparents. Eventually the plot is slowly resumed, and by the end is moving at a reasonable pace, but it's too late: the reader has been kept waiting too long.

The digressions are often powerful in themselves, and do shed light on the main characters, but they overwhelm
Randy Schultz
I've read some bad Canadian literature but this is just pure shit. At first I was somewhat intrigued by the first person narrative of a dead six month old baby girl. This without asking the question, how did she learn to speak so well? It's just an allegorical device, poetic licence in literature. Garbage. If this was written as a regular readable story, as interestingly as possible, it would still be dull and boring. A "who cares" tale dressed up in lyrical mis-use. I gave it a 1 because you ...more
May 14, 2016 Kimberly rated it it was ok
Didn't finish it. Beautifully written at times but not enough to keep my interest.
Oct 14, 2016 Nevena rated it did not like it
I read this book 3 years ago in first year English, but I was recently trying to describe to someone why I often didn't like Canadian lit and remembered it again. This novel is the perfect example of everything that drives me crazy in can lit - barren to a fault, dreary, almost impressively slow-moving, overbearing. Lane is a fine writer, his prose in itself is poetic (something I usually enjoy), and the first few paragraphs are gorgeous. But the characters, plot and setting are impossibly dull. ...more
Friederike Knabe
Oct 17, 2010 Friederike Knabe rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
Set in 1958 in a small remote community in the southern Okanagan region of Canada, the story centres on the two Stark brothers, their family and a group of friends, enemies and neighbours. While the actual events take place in the space of a week, the narrative moves in flashbacks to previous generations and the early settler years. The people living eking out a living in this harsh environment, bear the inherited burden of poverty and misery. In their struggle to make ends meet they easily turn ...more
Feb 20, 2010 Brittany rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Maybe diehard Canadian lit readers
How I Came to Read This Book: Random House sent it to me eons ago.

The Plot: I guess the protagonist is a young man named Tom Stark, who lives in a small town in the West in the 1950s. His brother Eddy is royally messed up after being sent to juvi and becoming addicted to heroin. His mother, perhaps mad since a young age, is a recluse with no love for anyone but her eldest, wanted son. His father is long since dead, a man with a temperament of a pit bull. The 'present day' plot of the story surro
Laura Francabandera
May 16, 2012 Laura Francabandera rated it it was amazing
"It was stone country where a bone cage could last a thousand years under the moon, its ribs a perch for Vesper sparrows, its skull a home for Harvest mice." (p. 14)

In a strange - but fitting - genre cross of Western Noir and Southern Gothic, Patrick Lane has crafted a generational story of horror, tragedy, and family resilience in the face of the unbearable. The Stark family, living in the house on Ranch Road in a rural farming town in 1950s British Columbia, hides terrible secrets. These secre
Jun 11, 2012 Abigail rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Lane tells the difficult story of the Stark family who are living in extreme poverty in the Canadian desert in the 1950s. He shows how experiences of abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction, and emotional instability shaped the lives and experiences of Tom and Eddy Stark, how their parents decisions, behaviour, and actions and the social context determined the fate of the brothers and how the early lives of their parents determined those decisions, behaviours, and actions. He ...more
Tricia Dower
Jul 07, 2009 Tricia Dower rated it liked it
An impressive book for its lyrical language. But that same language is too much of a good thing at times. Poetic description often slows the pace. I found myself wondering at one point if Tom would ever get out of the truck he was in. Speaking of Tom, I related most to this character and felt Lane had really gotten under his skin. The story was most alive for me when Tom was on the page. This novel is a saga of a family -- two brothers, their brute of a father and their mother who favors one son ...more
Rachael Kearley
Mar 24, 2011 Rachael Kearley rated it it was amazing
This is my all time favourite book! He actually used to teach at my uni but I missed his poetry workshops by one year. This book is so prosaicly beautiful but the poetic nature of his diction is juxtaposed with the harsh landscape and character of early 1900s prairie life. The narrative is haunting and the characters are believably tortured mentally and physically. It is a heart-wrenching story told with hauntingly beautiful poetic prose that you can't help but cry. I strongly suggest this ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
"Magical element"

Red Dog Red Dog is very different from the books I used to read. The images jumped back and forth encircling a family of desolate characters. They are ineloquent to the extreme, hearing them speak is a rare treat. A picture of barrenness, isolation, and forlornness. At the same time, “Red Dog Red Dog” is not an easy read, you have to be willing to stay with the narrator (sometimes a one-year-old ghost!), the characters, the story, to absorb the grief, helplessness and unspoken e
Wendell Hennan
Jun 16, 2015 Wendell Hennan rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Once again a National Best Seller that is totally outside my idea of a goodread. Set in the 50s in Alberta, where I grew up, Saskatchewan, Montana et al, narrated by a deceased infant daughter, this book thank GOD does not begin to resemble the life I knew growing up in that era and that place. While his writing may be "richly textured" it is also morbid depressing and moves at a pace that makes paint drying seem instantaneous. I QUIT at page 175 and the only thing I learned was that Qu'Apelle ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Sunshine rated it liked it
Written by Canadian poet Patrick Lane, this beautifully written book follows the story of the Stark family in the 1950's Okanagan Valley. How do we become who we are? What events in our lives have shaped us into the person we are today? A story of loss, addiction, sorrow and death. I chose this book because of the setting (the okanagan valley), a place I love to visit. Lane gives vivid descriptions and uses many metaphors. A book you almost have to read twice. I enjoyed Tom Stark's narration ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it
I want to give this 2.5 stars, and the only thing that tips the balance to 3 is that I was interested in reading about the past of a town I'm familiar with. The language was lovely and the setting interesting (at least to me). Otherwise, this was another depressing Canlit novel.

Lane is obviously a talented writer and I'd like to try reading his nonfiction, but I can't really say I enjoyed this book.
Jun 30, 2012 Meagan rated it really liked it
Written very descriptively, with a tremendous ability to transpose the reader into the story due to the authors incredible ability to write well. However…….it can be a difficult read. It deals with numerous life struggles that one would rather sweep under the carpet. But the book grasps you by the hand and sucks you back in. Written well, but the story line can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Jack Coleman
Nov 02, 2014 Jack Coleman rated it really liked it
I was turned off immediately by the grim subject matter but as i read further,I was hooked by the language. If this man was not a poet It would have died a quick literary death.
The book is cross between The Grapes of Wrath and King Lear. It is a "Stark"Testament to the universal destruction caused by child abuse.
Emma Coffin
Dec 30, 2015 Emma Coffin rated it it was ok
Moments of beauty but the overall execution was not very innovative and the characters seemed like very stereotypical and therefore not very captivating. It seemed like a failed attempt to emulate Faulkner.
Evocative writing style but too bleak for my liking.

The lack of quotation marks was odd. It made reading this book out loud and quite the challenge.
Marc Jackson
Couldn't finish this. Life is already full of cruelty and despair I don't necessarily want to read about it. This one was just a little too depressing for this guy.
Aug 25, 2009 Jon rated it liked it
I liked the story as a whole. The poetic language, though beautiful, could have been cut back a bit and the book would have been no worse off. All in all, a nice summer read.
Kristi Fedorowicz
Booooring! This writer should stick to poetry because he is not much of a novelist. Some beautiful writing in parts, but like I said...he's a poet.
Jul 21, 2012 Rebecca rated it did not like it
You just have to put a book down when you're constantly forcing yourself to pick it up. The low rating of this book already tells me I wasn't the only one that thought it was bad...
I am just a few chapters in. It is an interesting voice that Lane uses. Lots of poetic imagery which I am enjoying.

Just finished. What an eloquent writer. Such a sad, sad story.
Jan 06, 2016 Lexie rated it it was ok
Shelves: behemoths, canlit
While the imagery is beautiful, I found the characters, themes and plot too dark. I didn't enjoy the read, and because of that, didn't really care about the novel's direction.
Stacie rated it it was ok
Apr 08, 2010
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Patrick Lane was born in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, on March 26, 1939. He has no formal education beyond high school in Vernon, B.C. From 1957 to 1968 with his young wife, Mary, he raised three children, Mark, Christopher, and Kathryn, and began working at a variety of jobs, from common labourer, truck driver, Cat skinner, chokerman, boxcar loader, Industrial First-Aid Man in the northern ...more
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