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Last Days of the Dog-Men: Stories

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  226 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the Academy of Arts and Letters and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. In each of these "weird and wonderful stories" (Boston Globe), Brad Watson writes about people and dogs: dogs as companions, as accomplices, and as unwitting victims of human passions; and people responding to dogs as missing pa ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1996)
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This is a collection of short stories with a theme of dogs. Very basic and very Southern American. I must admit I did approach this with a bit of apprehension, as I feared the worst for the doggies, but some of the stories were captivating and the writing was fluid.

You never hear of dogs named Bill.

My favourite story was called BILL. It's a simple tale of an elderly woman who lives with a "trembling poodle" advanced in years, as is Wilhelmina. She doesn't have much connection to anything or anyo
Kristopher Kelly
Feb 07, 2012 Kristopher Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Eight great short stories about people, dogs, life, light, and darkness. Watson can write the hell out of a sentence while telling some of the most surprising stories you're likely to find. These are rough Southern pieces, steeped in an unflinching but fair view of humanity, recommended for serious readers who aren't looking for sentimental Disney-ish stories about people and the pets they love. A few of these qualify in my opinion as flat-out horror stories. So ... be warned. Marley and Me this ...more
Oct 14, 2010 Craig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad collection, but I have 2 reasons it just didn't "hit" for me.

1.) I'm just not a fan of southern literature. Never have been. I just really don't get it at all. My failure - not the author's.

2.) Some of the stories felt a bit forced - at least the dog connection.

Others were quite good.

It is a pretty bleak collection if that influences your desire to read it at all one way or another.
Gwen Jones
Nov 22, 2016 Gwen Jones rated it really liked it
I personally loved the book. I can see why people would criticize it through. I try not to overthink and criticize fictional literature because I can't even imagine how hard it must be to finish a book.At the end , he did use the N word which I found unneccassary , he could have used servants or men of color. I can see why he did that through because technically it is southern literature.
Timothy McNeil
I am not sure what readers who enjoyed Watson's stories in this collection see that I didn't. Aside from the general set-up (which doesn't ever amount to plot or character sketches or anything resembling an artistic statement or plain, simple point) in the titular "Last Days of the Dog-Men" and the more formulated (though still problematic) "A Retreat", there is nothing in this book worth reading. At least not as complete stories. There are brief moments of good writing, but not enough to even ...more
Mar 14, 2010 El rated it it was ok
This was a hard book for me to rate. These are short stories, primarily about people but also, importantly most times, their relationships to their pet dogs. I can get down with that, being such a slut for dogs myself. But the fates of these animals were not always the best, and I found myself upset a lot of the time and probably missing the whole point of the animal as a metaphor for life or humanity or whatever. Agnes of Bob may be one of the best short stories I've read in quite some time, bu ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Good. I guess at their worst these stories resemble little exercises—not to say they're not fully fleshed out, but they do seem to put style a bit ahead of content. And not even that they're super stylistic, but they do have that post-Carver feel to them. The dog thing is slightly odd as well. Dogs are woven into the stories integrally—I don't see Watson tossing a hound in here or there to make a story fit into the collection. And somehow a 150-page-long book of stories all involving dogs works. ...more
Christopher Hivner
May 06, 2012 Christopher Hivner rated it liked it
This is a collection of 8 short stories, each one with a dog involved, its behaviors and relationship with the people driving the story. There is no doubt that Brad Watson is a talented writer. His characters jump off the page presenting themselves to you forcefully. Some of his metaphors and similes left me shaking my head mumbling, 'how did he come up with that?'

Having said that, I didn't enjoy Last Days entirely. This is a sad, ugly book. I had no problem with the melancholy characters and th
Timothy Bazzett
Mar 19, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it really liked it
I just read this book a second time. First read it a dozen or more years ago when it was new. As a dog-man myself, I love this slim collection of stories abvout the various ways dogs interact with people and fit into their lives. These aren't all "warm 'n' fuzzy" kinds of stories. A couple of them - "The Wake" and "A Blessing" - are in fact quite the opposite, the latter story story showing a brutal side of men that is quite shocking. And "Bill" may break your heart. My favorite of the eight ...more
May 03, 2012 Elisabeth rated it liked it
In this collection of stories Watson delves unerringly into the mind of both (Southern) man and canine and the result shows how people project their own emotions onto pets and how their behavior can mimic each other, from yearning for human connection to thoughtless and sometimes savage behavior while seeking freedom. He gives good argument for why dog is man's best friend. "Seeing Eye" trembled with emotion of a dog recalling his former farm life prior to serving as guide to a blind man, while ...more
I read this book while staying with a friend, picked it up off his shelf and gave it a read.

Suddenly I have many more dogs in my life, so I am trying to understand them better. I thought this might help. It didn't.

All of these stories are really depressing. Every story has a dog in it, although the stories are way more about the men than the dogs. And some of the dog-men are women.

My favorite stories: Agnes of Bob and Bill. The Wake and Kindred Spirits were just plain weird.
Jun 08, 2015 Lucynell rated it liked it
I'm a slow reader and yet I finished this in about an hour and a half which surprised me a bit because despite it being a slim volume it's awfully dry, and for lack of better expression, pretty loose or maybe too hazy. Dogs are on the periphery, too. Maybe there's something to do with symbolism or some such but I didn't much see it. Still, when it's good, two or three of the eight stories, it's pretty neat and attractively peculiar. A girl ships herself back to her boyfriend via UPS.
Oct 28, 2011 Sofia rated it did not like it
If you are a fan of dogs or an animal lover, this is not the book for you. I kept hoping the stories would get better, but instead they continually devolved. On the plus side, the stories were short, so they were quick to get through; however, I get no joy from melancholy stories that include dogs mainly as victims and sufferers. Pass on this and read "Inside of a Dog" instead.
Madeline Anthes
May 25, 2012 Madeline Anthes rated it really liked it
This book was hauntingly moving. Watson writes short stories about people and their dogs in brilliant, chilling prose. I found myself unable to put it down as soon as I picked it up. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that, as a dog person, it was difficult to read some of the disturbing stories about the dogs. Overall though, it was beautifully written and definitely worth the read.
May 08, 2011 Joshua rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-fiction
There's something about contemporary southern literature... it's genuine, unassuming, and I love it.

The stories in this book were precise and entertaining. "Kindred Spirits" and "The Wake" were wonderfully weird southern gothic style piece, and the titular story was fantastic.

Superb little collection.
Bob Bellamy
Jan 06, 2014 Bob Bellamy rated it really liked it
Watson's collection of short stories were extremely amusing. Even though I am not a dog person, the character he gives both the human and animal figures in the book are moving, touching and often funny. It is a very readable and enjoyable book.
Brian Tucker
Aug 22, 2014 Brian Tucker rated it liked it
Engaging, well-told stories from beginning to end, but all...and I mean all...involving dogs in some form or fashion. The title suggests this, but I took it as more metaphor rather than literal engagement between men and dogs. 3/5.
Jul 21, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
I read this before I met the author, and got a hilariously wrong impression of him, but either way, anyone who cares a lick about dogs will appreciate these.
Feb 24, 2016 Danielle rated it it was ok
Shelves: dogs
This should be called "last days of the sorry dog-men." Such a depressing, sad read I am almost upset that I purchased this book.
Jul 14, 2013 Meghan rated it really liked it
Amazing juxtapositions, the hardness and softness of man and beast, the tiny moments. He is a beautiful storyteller.
Jul 18, 2016 Marge rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was difficult to rate as it is a collection of eight short stories - some were brilliant and a few were just mediocre.
Sep 04, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
I'm a guppy for anything with dogs in it, but this is an exceptionally well-written collection of stories.
Lynn rated it really liked it
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Sofie Crandall
Sofie Crandall rated it liked it
Aug 27, 2014
Ben rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2012
Rich Boyett
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Aug 30, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book
A set of beautifully written short stories about dogs and the people who own them.
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Brad Watson teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. His first collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men, won the Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts & Letters; his first novel, The Heaven of Mercury, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
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“Humans are aware of very little, it seems to me, the artificial brainy side of life, the worries and bills and the mechanisms of jobs, the doltish psychologies we've placed over our lives like a stencil. A dog keeps his life simple and unadorned.” 8 likes
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