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The Dog of the Marriage: Stories

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  910 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Amy Hempel's compassion, intensity, and illuminating observations have made her one of the most distinctive and admired modern writers. In three stunning books of stories, she has established a voice as unique and recognizable as the photographs of Cindy Sherman or the brushstrokes of Robert Motherwell. The Dog of the Marriage, Hempel's fourth collection, is about sexual o ...more
Hardcover, 139 pages
Published February 22nd 2005 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2005)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Some people can't really get down with the short story format. I can appreciate the sentiment, since they can sort of feel like casual acquaintances when compared to the lifelong loves to be found in certain novels. Short stories generally poke rather than punch, which is just an inevitable downside of being under-endowed. I could probably list on my hands the number of short stories that have really, really stuck with me over the years for whatever reason. The Masque of the Red Death, a few of ...more
I checked this out from the library because I was thinking of taking a master class with Hempel next month. Her focus will be on language and what she calls the "acoustics of a sentence," and I am very interested in that.

As usual, I continue to struggle with and sometimes be frustrated by some aspects of spare short-short fiction, though there's been some I've absolutely loved, e.g. Black Tickets by Jayne Anne Phillips, the ones included in Where the Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih and ju
I guess if I had to use one word to describe Amy Hempel's stories, it would be spare. She does not over-describe emotions, setting, or characters. It is all laid out cleanly and precisely. She uses the bare minimum of words to get her story across; probably less.

The story that spoke to me the most was "The Uninvited." A woman who volunteers at a rape-crisis hotline is attacked and worries that she might be pregnant. She is better at dealing with crisis in other victims than she is at dealing wit
When Hempel is good, she's really good. The sentences of her stories are laced with humor and meaning and pathos with the minimum of words. Her writing is spare in that way that will be labeled minimalism, but her ideas and situations explode from their bare framework. As with other great minimalists--Carver, Denis Johnson, etc.--what's left off the page is just as important and can be inferred from what is there. I liked this collection a lot. In fact, some of the most poignant stories are the ...more
Colin McKay Miller
Two stars. Barely:

Collected Stories review:

Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories starts with my favorite short story collection ever, Reasons to Live, and then proceeds to highlight the author’s decline to mediocrity.

Don’t get me wrong; ask me who the best short story writer is and I’ll still say Amy Hempel, but sometimes you have to be honest, even about the people you admire most. Like many who got into Hempel prior to the rabid Chuck Palahniuk endorsement, I was hooked by the widely anthologized “In
The Dog of the Marriage, Amy Hempel. New York: Scribner, 2005. Hardcover, $20.00 ISBN 0-7432-6451-7

I finished Amy Hempel’s latest short story collection, “The Dog of the Marriage,” on a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe. During this particular visit the museum hosted an exhibit, “Moments in Modernism: Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Warhol, Flowers of Distinction” and on the wall for this exhibit were quotes by both authors. One by O’Keefe made me think immediately of Hempel’s work and ce
Simon Sylvester
This is an astonishing book - a class apart. The Dog Of The Marriage gathers Amy Hempel's four short story collections into a single volume, and they are consistently superb. There isn't a single wrong note across dozens of stories. Hempel's work is voiced through emotionally damaged or stunted narrators, trapped or somehow left behind in their lives, caught between stasis and decay. The stories are not without hope, though, and Hempel writes with unceasing, unfailing humanity. Her sentences and ...more
Marie Chow
Cut to the Chase:
Hempel is a powerful, emotional, often sparse writer — the stories here, which all seem to deal with love in one way or another, range from two sentences to 27 pages long. The stories are easy to read and will often linger in your memory, but as a true modern artist, she is a master of not writing past the ending, so much so that you will find some of the stories ending (often a bit abruptly) just as they’re getting interesting. Still, these characters are powerful, witty, and i
This collection of stories was a solid 5 stars before the last story, "Offertory." I just did not feel as if Hempel was the person to write this particular story. Perhaps I am wrong. Regardless, this collection of nine stories epitomizes the power a short story can attain and reflect back upon the reader.

There's a one-sentence story in this collection called "Memoir"—“Just once in my life—oh, when have I ever wanted anything just once in my life?”—and it is exquisite.

But mostly for me, The Dog of the Marriage was like walking through a crowd of people and thinking you recognize someone, but realizing that you’re mistaken, it's not the person you thought it was. And by that I mean, there were moments when I felt incredibly close to the narrative voices, when I could relate to the emotional condit
Amy Hempel's stories are extraordinary for what they leave out. Her incredible economy makes me want to reread and reread.
I picked it up on a recommendation of the clerk at the used book store who saw me with Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk in the growing stack of books I planned to purchase. She added this to my cache, pointing out the blurb on the back:
In airports and on trains, the toughest part of reading The Dog of the Marriage is how much your jaw muscles ache from the effort it takes not to laugh and cry in front of strangers. Amy Hempel is my god among writers.

- Chuck Palahniuk

I think I appreciated A
After reading Dog of the Marriage by Amy Hempel, you will need to redefine for yourself the meanings of the words: home and family. From the first sentence of the first scene in the first story, Hempel will having you questioning – what is home? You will wonder if having neighbors “swear at missed croquet shots” really counts as being home. By the end of that first page, you won’t be entirely sure what family means either. “Beach Town”, that opening story, will ensure that Hempel’s readers finis ...more
Ben Thurley
I've obviously been on a bit of a short story jag this year, and despite starting this collection with high expectations (based on reviews of her other work) I found it fairly unsatisfying. Hempel's spare, ambiguous prose-style is intriguing and the reader is constantly forced to navigate through her unresolved deixis (unspecified personal pronouns, particularly, abound) and oblique narratives.

However, I was left wondering what I had put in the effort for. "What were the white things" is a forc
There are many people who try to imitate Hempel's style, but in the end no one can touch the true depth of the original. The density of her work, where almost every sentence (nay, maybe even every syllable) contains every level of storytelling thin and superficial readers like "Gracie" obviously missed, is phenomenal. Hempel may not be a quick read, but she is certainly worth the extra effort.

Also impressive about Hempel is how she is able to subtly shift her tones in her stories. There is a co
Griseo Mitran
Perro, coche, accidente, pareja, infidelidad, tren. Y así todo el rato. Además de eso se le quita lo bueno de los dos primeros libros, por lo que éste tiene nula ironía y ahora nada o casi nada el lector debe de adivinarlo, todo se dice y se detalla hasta con notas a pie de página. El súmmum, a veces te encuentras divagaciones sin sentido ni orden.

Y que narices, yo no puedo con ese discurso tan americano de "¡Y lo bueno y bonito que es conducir!".
Renee Alberts
Amy Hempel’s first-person narrators have the tone of a recent acquaintance candidly revealing the details of her tangled personal life: they’re a little startling, but somehow very familiar. Hempel’s prose is poetic and concise. Her sentences expertly shift between wry self-deprecation and poetic observations. “The Uninvited” is the highlight of the collection, expertly weaving several narratives, including the narrator’s work as hotline operator, watching the movie The Uninvited, and seeking pa ...more
eroticism as flower arranging ...said with great great respect to flower arranging. or, i guess, metaphorically: flower arrangement as eroticism. some confluence of care and courage and winging-it, bold lechery and a gourmet's rarefied lust. from it: "Renoir told Matisse he would pick flowers in the fields and arrange them in a vase, and then he would paint the side he had not arranged." an awesomely patient artist, waiting for the detail, sifting through life for the sentence. a convincing poet ...more
Gautam Patel
Oct 29, 2009 Gautam Patel is currently reading it
Absolutely stunning writing!

"My heart—I thought it stopped. So I got in my car and headed for God. I passed two churches with cars parked in front. Then I stopped at the third because no one else had.
It was early afternoon, the middle of the week. I chose a pew in the center of the rows. Episcopal or Methodist, it didn't make any difference. It was as quiet as a church.
I thought about the feeling of the long missed beat, and the tumble of the next ones as they rushed to fill the space. I sat t
Despite the high rating and laudatory blurbs, I really didn't like this collection that much. The writing was okay, but it was like looking at an abstract painting or listening to free verse, both of which I am not too keen on. Yes, occasionally you will get something beautiful anyway, and enjoy it, but overall I want my stories to be more story. I don't want to feel that the writer (or artist) was slumming, conning the readers that they had produced something great. I liked the title story and ...more
Hempel is a very intelligent, "cool" writer, but she made me laugh, appreciate, and cringe by turn.
Just re-read this. Really great collection, I think her best since the first one she did.
Terri Jacobson
Interesting group of 9 short stories. Like the wordplay and the underlying humor. The title story is my favorite.
I liked one of these stories: "Reference # 388475848-5"... but I didn't love it, it was just okay. The others all felt emotionally constipated to me, dry, sterile, boring. I didn't get any hint of that compassion mentioned in the official review, nor any emotion. These all felt like workshop exercises instead of compelling narratives. Obviously, other people feel that this woman writes superbly well, so I guess her voice is just one I am unable to appreciate.
Kye Alfred Hillig
I had heard that Amy Hempel is one of the greatest writers of our time so of course I had to read her. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I didn't have such high expectations. This novel seems like possibly it's not her best work. If anybody can suggest to me a better one please do. I really enjoyed the symbolism with the dog with there being a person in a relationship who always takes the brunt of it all. Good book. Didn't blow my mind.
I read the endorsements, and the first person said it was hard not to laugh out loud when reading these. Then the first story was about rape. I decided to ignore the endorsement.

I read the book as a collection of shorts, but I didn't read them with the understanding that they were linked (maybe I should have?). It was a quick read. Enjoyable. Some parts were humorous, though she discussed serious issues. Her style reminds me of Anne Lamott.
Annie Tucker
I'm intrigued.
With the exception of Junot Diaz, there is no other author I hate as much as Amy Hempel. She is too good for the rest of us, and it makes it hard for any blossoming writer to think they will ever do half as good as her. Where many other authors take pages to evoke an emotional response, Hempel does so with mere words. She is an author to envy and to learn from. I can't sing my hate-praise loud enough for her.
David Gallin-Parisi
Shadows and light flickering with speed and brevity. Reading Hempel, I catch sight of images quickly, like seeing shadows moving on a sidewalk, or leaves turning over. The pace suggests a time-lapse film, sensing life changes quicker than they actually happen. Dogs are a great presence as comfortable friends and near caregivers. Love goes away in these stories, not lost love, just really gone.
Hempel manages to write brilliant short stories, conveying an entire history with very few words. She wastes no energy on detail, writing only what you need to understand the situation. I first noticed her in the "Flash Fiction Forward" anthology and eagerly sought out more of her work.
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Amy Hempel is an American short story writer, journalist, and university professor at Brooklyn College. Hempel was a former student of Gordon Lish, who eventually helped her publish her first collection of short stories. Hempel has been published in Harper's, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Bomb. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Ambassador Book Award in 2007, the Rea Award for ...more
More about Amy Hempel...
The Collected Stories Reasons to Live Tumble Home: A Novella and Short Stories At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom: Stories Unleashed: Poems by Writers' Dogs

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“Just once in my life--oh, when have I ever wanted anything just once in my life?” 66 likes
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