WILD DOGS by Helen Humphreys (HarperCollins), 182 pages, $28 cloth. Rating: NNNN
Helen Humphreys reading Wednesday (October 27) and interviewed October 30. See listings page 44 for details.
Helen Humphreys does the aching thing like no else. With Wild Dogs, she gives us another of her beautiful, sometimes wrenching stories.
It's less ambitious than her last book, The Lost Garden, a period piece set in the UK during the second world war. But that's the wonder of it. Wild Dogs is simple, poetic and deep.
Six people gather every day at the edge of the forest to call out for their dogs.
Humphreys divides the story into episodes narrated by each of her characters, among them a 13-year-old who's getting kicked around at home, a failed painter who's almost creepy, but not quite (Humphreys is never cruel), a naive, slightly developmentally delayed young woman who decides to go live with the dogs, and Alice, who loves too hard.
They all have different accounts of why their animals went wild, and as they form uneasy alliances, they're drawn or repelled by one another, sometimes both.
In Humphreys's empathetic world, connection comes in surprising ways, a gun can be catalyst or a killer and words carry cosmic weight.