By Lewis Robinson
(Random House (NY), Hardcover, 9781400062171, 244pp.)
Publication Date: January 13, 2009
List Price: $25.00*
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Lewis Robinson’s critically acclaimed story collection Officer Friendly was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “eleven letter-perfect stories with the keen understanding of human nature readers expect to find in works by veterans like Alice Munro.” Now Robinson has written Water Dogs, a suspenseful, disquieting, and compulsively readable first novel that takes an unforgettable look at the delicate patchwork of a family.
Bennie knows that the details of his life don’t show well. A twenty-seven-year-old college dropout with stalled ambitions, he works at an animal shelter and lives with his bullheaded older brother, Littlefield, in their old family home on Meadow Island, Maine, a house that has fallen into disrepair since their father’s untimely death several years earlier.
When a massive blizzard hits the state one Saturday afternoon, Bennie, Littlefield, and a crew of roughneck war-game enthusiasts decide to play paintball at the local granite quarry. Bennie accidentally falls into a gully, landing in the hospital, and wonders if his life can get any worse. But when one of the players disappears during the storm and Littlefield becomes the main suspect in the disappearance, Bennie realizes that the game might have had much higher stakes. Then Littlefield takes off without a word of explanation, forcing Bennie to seriously question his loyalty to his enigmatic brother. With the guidance of his intrepid girlfriend, Helen, and his twin sister, Gwen, Bennie goes looking for answers, embarking on a journey that brings him closer to a truth he may not want to discover. What he finds will change his family and his life forever.
Written in prose as arresting and spare as the novel’s rural Maine setting, Lewis Robinson’s Water Dogs is a marvel of modern fiction, a book rich in empathy that follows one man’s path through the uncertainties of youth and loss toward self-discovery.