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I Thought You Were Dead
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I Thought You Were Dead

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  825 ratings  ·  222 reviews
For Paul Gustavson, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents’ money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, a ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Algonquin Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,557)
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Helen
Warning: there is a dog on the cover of this book. There is a dog in the book. There is a dog living in Paul’s apartment, and she is a special dog. Don’t ask me if the dog dies. I already know you don’t want to read another book in which the dog dies. So don’t ask, because the book isn’t about the dog. The book is about Paul. Just as in Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and Susan Wilson’s “One Good Dog” Nelson has pulled the old bait and switch. There is a dog (and I won’t tell you i ...more
Nick Duretta
There's a growing glut of anthropomorphic books narrated by dogs or featuring dogs carrying on human conversations. This is one of them. But, fortunately, this low-key novel is more than just that gimmick, which quickly moves from center stage to become a background element describing a man's journey in recovering from his divorce, alcoholism and damaged relationships with his family. The novel won't knock your socks off, but Nelson's writing is clear and taut and, despite the smart and conversa ...more
Natalie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lize
Jun 21, 2011 Lize rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011, dogs
I'm think I'm finally beginning to figure out the arcane code that is 'reviewer-speak', after picking this one up because it appeared to be a funny tale with a talking dog (always a big selling point) and I'd just read four month's worth of depressing stuff (that included child sacrifice and giant spiders) and I really needed a funny story with a talking dog. It was billed as:

"heartwarming, heartbreaking, and heart-wrenchingly funny."

Which means, in order: "you will cry", "you will cry, your nos
...more
Andreia Silva
Sempre tive uma estranha fobia a cães. Nunca fui mordida por nenhum, mas também a probabilidade de isso acontecer era muito baixa visto eu nem sequer me aproximar deles. E quando me aproximava fugia! Até que uma cadela me fez mudar isso. E me conquistou! E este livro fez-me pensar nisso. Fez-me pensar no bem que nos faz termos uma amizade com um animal de estimação que parece que nos ouve e que nos compreende e que está sempre lá quer estejamos felizes, tristes ou cansados. A história é linda e ...more
Denise
I Thought You Were Dead is the latest book in the talking dog trend. I'm a dog lover and some of these books really work for me. While I can't say I loved this one, I did think that Stella was well written and believable.

Paul Gustavson is an immature, lost and lonely soul. He writes for the Moron series of books (think books for Dummies), sort of has a girlfriend, and is floating through life pretty directionless. When his father has a stroke it serves as a wake-up call for Paul and he starts tr
...more
Diane
I Thought You Were Dead; Pete Nelson
(a WONDERFUL audio book experience)

Paul Gustavson's life seems to be going in the wrong direction. Paul's a writer of the "For Morons" series; his wife has divorced him, his girlfriend is seeing someone else, his sex life has more downs than ups due to recent impotence problems, and his father has suffered a serious stroke.

Depressed, he eats too much junk food, is getting seriously out of shape, drinks a little too much, and spends a little too much time in a
...more
Melissa
SO many factors into picking up this book - first you cannot discount the cover. The cover is simple and irresistable. Second, pretty much any book about dogs has me hooked. And third, the main human can talk to his dog?! I couldn't wait to devour this book!
Paul is a single divorced guy, average joe, a writer and doesn't give himself enough credit for his ability, but he's got a wonderful friend named Stella. She, as in most dogs, understands him better than he does himself. Paul's life is throw
...more
Mary Lou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacy
My disappointment in this book honestly mostly came from the reviews i read which lead me to buy the book. The book was described as "clever, heartwarming, and engaging", "read it and you will fall in love", "a delight", and "hilarious and heartbreaking". Personally, I found it to be none of these things except heartbreaking. I didn't find one line that made me even crack a smile. From the very beginning the mood is very dark and depressing and just when you think the book can't make you any mor ...more
Carol
I was reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and needed a break from it's intensity so I picked up I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson. It's a one sitting read and really, just a nice story, great for a hot Sunday afternoon. If you're looking for something sweet and non-threatening this book will fill the bill. It's a love story, written by a male author, which in in itself is a bit unusual. Nelson competes well with his female competition and can be proud of his effort in this genre.

Paul Gusta
...more
Annscm Perrigo
I picked up an arc of this at ALA because of the rep's explanation of the title, "It's what this guy's dog thinks every time he gets home late." Who could resist a come on like that? It sounded like it might have some teen appeal so...

In fact, although there are some really funny spots in this book (most involving Stella the talking dog), there are at least as many heartbreaking or depressing scenes. Talk about mid-life crisis! Paul is a forty-ish man, still reeling from the breakup of his first
...more
Staci
Why I wanted to read it: Since I've decided to dive into audio books this year, I have been religiously (seriously) going through Diane (Bibliophile by the Sea) and JoAnn's (Lakeside Musing) past posts about their favorite books they've listened to. Both of these wonderful ladies write such thoughtful and well constructed reviews and they have not steered me wrong. I picked this one from Diane's blog because I'm a huge dog lover and thought the whole concept of a dog being able to communicate wi ...more
Jackie
Paul is going through a mid-life crisis. He's trying to deal with his recent divorce and his father's even more recent stroke. He relies on his drinking buddies at the local bar to cheer him and make him forget his loneliness. He relies on companionship from his girlfriend, who is in an "open relationship" with him and one other man. And he relies on his ancient dog Stella to help him ruminate over life's issues. He's not the first human to ever talk to their pet, but Stella might just be the fi ...more
Jean Zott
I really enjoyed this book.

I thought the story was going to be all about Paul and his dog, but it was much more than that. It was about family and the complicated relationships we all have in our life. It's about dealing with decisions we have made and have to make and it's about making changes in our life that we know we had to make, but either ignore our inner thoughts or are too lazy to do the right thing.

I have had a dog in my home for the past 17 years. Stella reminded me of my yellow lab w
...more
Keith
I gave up on this one. The book is well written and the author definitely has a voice. Judging from other reviews, maybe you need to be more enamored with the idea of a talking dog than I was.

I was 100 pages into the 250 page book, and lost faith that it was going anywhere. I also had difficulty buying into the characters. The conceit of the beautiful successful young woman who for some reason is in love with the out of shape, unattractive and emotionally unavailable older man is a bit tired. Wh
...more
Peggy
Considering that this story involves a talking dog, I didn't have really high hopes for a meaningful, lasting impression. But I am pleasantly surprised! This is, to me, a story about family. It is also a journey of self for the main character that involves examining and exposing his (mostly failed) relationship dynamics with others in a personal, vulnerable way. I felt that it started out a bit slow and disconnected - didn't seem to be "about" anything in particular, but by mid-way through I was ...more
Sharon
The book was slow reading at first but it picks up very well near the middle. It's the story of Paul and Stella. How life can change whether you want it to or not. Stella is wonderfully written. Get out the tissues if you are an animal lover but it is a feel good ending.
Fred Bayley
What a wonderful book. Very touching. Loved this book.
Anna
Pete Nelson wrote a story about a middle aged guy going through a series of crises while trapped in a c-level chick lit book.
Paul is the baby of the family, a very whiny man who never really grew up. He keeps complaining about his life and circumstances -- I am really trying hard to like this guy. There is some whimsy provided by his ongoing conversations with his dog Stella who is a much more sympathetic character and Paul shows his better nature in his gentleness with her. There is finally a
...more
Amanda Morgan
Loveable loser Paul Gustavson is forced to re-evaluate his own life when his father has a debilitating stroke, and Paul is asked to help his father learn to communicate again. “I Thought You Were Dead” features the long-standing relationship between Paul and his golden lab/German shepherd mix, Stella.
This relationship seems to be the most successful of Paul’s life. He is a divorced work-from-home writer whose strained relationship with his family is OK because he lives so far away from them. Pa
...more
Maria
I received an audio version of this book as part of the LibrayThing� s early reviewers program, and I am so glad I was chosen to receive a copy of this story. I loved the humorous and serious interactions between the protagonist Paul Gustavson and his wise dog Stella. The author did a great job of making Stella real and likeable, and I became quite attached to her. Her owner, Paul, was a bit frustrating at times while he was fighting his demons, but the business of demon fighting IS usually frus ...more
Alison
Your dog talks to you. I know she does. I've caught you talking to your dog and some of you are downright shameless when it comes to the things your dogs will say! We should all have a dog like Stella, a wise old gal, part lab, part shepherd.

They say a dog's love is unconditional, which is what makes them man's best friend. What if his dog were a man's only true friend?

For Paul Gustavson, a hack writer for the wildly popular For Morons series, life is a succession of obstacles. His wife has lef
...more
Cayr
Aug 23, 2011 Cayr rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: dogs
Paul is kind of a sad sack. He drinks too much, he can't seem to make his love life work, and he has awkward relationships with his father and brother. The only thing really going for Paul, is his dog Stella.

Nelson asks the reader to accept the fact that Stella and Paul have two-way conversations. Not like the conversations in Kerasote's "Merle's Door", where the author supposes what Merle is trying to tell him, but actual conversations where Paul talks to Stella and she talks back.

Stella is t
...more
Hobart
Start with a young-ish divorced man, struggling to get his career going, in love with a woman dating someone else. Throw in a parent with a major health issue, a supportive sister, and a much more successful older brother who's a lifelong rival and idle who he must come to terms with. On the whole, there's not much here you can't find in many other books on the General Fiction shelves. But Nelson executes his story so well, the lack of novelty isn't that important. Nothing seems forced, even if ...more
Wanda
This was a good book; love story between a wise old dog, her owner and his love life. Stella's end of life (loss of bodily functions, etc) kind of ran a parallel with her owner as he struggled to do some of the things that men get hit with sexually. It is a story of committed love, love lost. found love, and enduring love. I think the audio as far as the reader was a little difficult to follow as the reader didn't inflect his voice for many of the different characters in the book. It took me a c ...more
Mary Paddock
Paul Gustavson is at one of those crossroads we all face from time to time in which we get to choose to make changes and become happier or continue suffering from the consequences of our own actions (or inaction as the case may be). He's got a girlfriend he's afraid to ask more from (even though she's seeing someone else), a family he's estranged from (and doesn't want to be), and comforts himself by drinking too much and eating too much junk food. But that's okay, because he's also got Stella. ...more
Linda Lombardi
So, here's the thing. This is obviously a good book. People who know more about books than me say so. The quotes are right on the inside of the book. You can believe them. It is well written, original, all those things you can judge more or less objectively about a book. But the world is full of good books, so that doesn't narrow it down much, you know? So if you are bothering to read this review, the question I should answer is, if you are a person like me, do you want to read this book?

So the
...more
Deon Stonehouse
This is an edgy, endearing, often funny novel we can all relate to. Paul has a few problems, his wife divorced him, his relationship with his girl friend might be on the rocks too, his father has a stroke, and his parents lost significant money in the stock market. Money, relationship issues, and parents with failing health, these are the reefs that the ships of life crash upon. His solution is to spend his free time at the local bar drowning his sorrows. His strategy is not working. Facing such ...more
Harold Ogle
Months ago, I was looking for more books in the Herbert's Wormhole series for my son, and a quick search at the library brought up this as one result. I couldn't resist the title, and a scan of the first few pages struck me favorably as a blend of "Harvey" and Woody Allen. So I checked it out and started to read it.

I quickly found it tough going, though. The protagonist, Paul, can understand and talk with dogs, starting with his aging golden retriever, Stella. There's the potential for a lot of
...more
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Pete Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York. He got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1979 and has written both fiction and non-fiction for magazines, including Harpers, Playboy, Esquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour, Redbook. He was a columnist for Mademoiselle and a staff writer for LIVE Magazine, covering various live event ...more
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“I used to think I knew all the answers. Then I thought I knew maybe a few of the answers. Now I'm not even sure I understand the questions. Nobody knows anything.” 15 likes
“Individual heart cells beat at their own rate when separated from one another, a phenomenon easily observed beneath a microscope. It has long been known that when they are pushed together, they will synchronize their pulses. Recent studies have shown, however, that heart cells begin to synchronize slightly before they touch. It is not known how they signal across this distance. Some scientists speculate that this method of communication may be able to cross great distances and may explain how social animals bond, or how pets seem to sense when their masters are coming home, or even how people fall in love, one heart calling to another.” 5 likes
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