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I Thought You Were Dead

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,111 Ratings  ·  269 Reviews
For Paul Gustavson, a hack writer for the wildly popular For Morons series, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a debilitating stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother has invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. St ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Algonquin Books
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Sep 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dogs, 2011
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
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dog Lovers & Those who like to Smile :-)
This is a beautiful, sweet story filled with humor and wisdom. The relationships presented in this novel are emotionally connected to the reader. I loved the conversations that Paul has with his dog, Stella. I love the subtitle A Love Story . I Thought You Were Dead is indeed a love story in more than one aspect.

I am very happy to have read this book. This was among the interesting books I bought when Borders closed in 2011 and I am just now getting around to them.

Favorite Passages:

"Cash alwa
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once in awhile, one finds a book that speaks to them. It's not advertising hype that made one pick it up and read it. Just a quiet little innocuous book with a dog on the front. So maybe it was the dog that made me pick up this book. It's not about the dog tho, it's about relationships. Paul is recently divorced and is sharing his girlfriend, reluctantly, with Stephen. Paul's father has had a debilitating stroke and his older brother still intimidates him as tho he were still a pre-teen. H ...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
Maria Espadinha
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quando a Crise bate à Porta:

À boca dos "entas" Paul vê a sua vida invadida de problemas: é o divórcio, é o pai gravemente doente, é a namorada que anda com outro, é a sua tendência para procurar conforto na bebida...
Enfim, é a crise dos quarenta a bater-lhe à porta!

Mas nem tudo é mau na vida de Paul.
Stella, um misto de Labrador e Pastor Alemão é o seu Sol de cada dia!
Está lá sempre, ouve-o, conforta-o e aconselha-o, guiando os seus passos na direcção certa.

Ao que parece, quando a crise nos visi
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
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-audio
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jean Zott
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Gloria Yarina
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dog lovers
Recommended to Gloria by: Patricia Bloom
This book, I Thought You Were Dead is about relationships, family-brothers, sisters, mom and dad, relationships with friends, male and female, and best of all the very intimate conversations with his dog. Novel is written from a mans' pov and he receives advice from his dog. This interaction is like non other. His dog listens and the man actually understands and takes to heart what his dog is saying. His dog Stella is above all his best friend. Stella is old and Paul is very aware of the needs o ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Lou
Nov 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Annscm Perrigo
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fuer hermoso.
Jamás había leído un libro con un personaje tan egoísta, egocentrico y adicto que fuera tan agradable.
Por supuesto ame su relación con Stella. Creo que todos los que tenemos mascotas podemos comprender ese amor incondicional, por supuesto fui un mar de lagrimas.
La mejor forma de resumir el libro es con esta cita:

"...te quiero por tu sentido del humor y tu ingenio y porque tienes esa rara mezcla de tristeza y optimismo y ensimismamiento y desprendimiento y locura y seriedad, y no
May 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
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
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
juan carlos
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Este libro me dejo grandes frases y enseñanzas. Ademas te muestra de una manera sencilla, nostalgica y verdadera el concepto de la soledad y el amor. Pero lo que más me gusto fue el tema de la relación que existe entre los seres humanos y sus mascotas, que como explica el autor, no hay nada más puro y sincero que el amor de una mascota hacia su dueño. Gracias a este libro conoci al mejor personaje de este año 2014, Stella te amo y te llevare siempre en mi mente y en mi corazón.
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
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.
Super great book - I LOVED Stella and the author has clearly had some really wonderful relationships with his dogs!! Quick, satisfying read fulfilling all the requirements set forth by the female reader!!

March 2017 update- I loved the quote about squirrels worrying despite the unseen bounty around them.

However, have to dock 1 star (so now a 3 star book). Narrator got off too easy - really that 1 change undid all his problems? Also, triclosan is an antibiotic- creating antibiotic resistant bacter
Dane Jackson
I like Nelson's writing and the book is a good one - I just feel like it's going to be a read that hits a little too close to home for my liking.

I will probably try it again when I'm in a different mindset - but not right now.
Fred Bayley
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. Very touching. Loved this book.
Andrew Otalvaro
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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.” 27 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.” 10 likes
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