Red Dog, Red Dog

by Patrick Lane | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780771046353 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Pooker3 of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 12/29/2008
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Monday, December 29, 2008
A Christmas gift!

Journal Entry 2 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I asked for this book for Christmas having read the jacket flap synopsis that this book is set in the Okanagan Valley. While this is not "my" country (that being Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario), I have such a lot of family living there that I visit it often and think of it as the 2nd best place in the Country in which to live.

But the Okanagan described by Lane is so totally unlike the place that I know, that I would not have recognized it but for the place names. Every moment I've spent in the Okanagan Valley, on Kal Lake has been a joyous wonderful experience. I've been visiting that area since the 60s. Could it possibly have changed so much since the time in which this novel is set (the late 1950s)? Am I not remembering things correctly? As I was reading I wished that my grandparents were still around so I could ask them and I did resolve to ask my Aunt and Uncle who still live there.

This is the story of the Stark family, a profoundly dysfunctional family if there ever was one. The story is told, in part by one of the family's two dead infant baby girls, the titular red dogs being brothers, Eddy and Tom. Eddy commits some crime as a youth (I really should write up these little reviews as soon as I finish reading because now I can't remember what he did) but he gets sent off to "Boyco" a youth detention centre in Vancouver. He returns to his home town ever changed and marked, sinking into a life of misery, drugs and violence. Tom loves his brother, notes the change in him, but is powerless to help him out of his downward spiral. He just watches and picks up the pieces. Tom himself has his own pain and awful secret to deal with.

But it is not only the brothers who are damaged goods in this novel. It seems that everyone is crippled or deformed in some way. Alcohol and drug abuse, bar fights, robbery, killing and rape are commonplace in the community. Hell, the family entertainment - the fun day out with the wife and kids and barbecue is attending the to-the-death dog fights.

I found the brothers' story to be fascinating, albeit depressing, and I was engaged from beginning to end. The writing is beautiful and reminded me of Ondaatje's Divisidero (although Lane's was much easier for me to "get") so I was not surprised to learn that Patrick Lane is in fact an acclaimed Canadian poet. Shame on me, I guess, that I didn't already know this.

Having finished reading this book several weeks ago, I've had time to think about the difference in the Okanagan world presented by Lane and the one I remember and have concluded that neither of us is mistaken. I don't remember the violence and cruelty because it was not remarkable then. Looking back, I realize that my own background and my own community were just as coloured by it. I have a vague recollection of one of my father's friends being rumoured to have killed someone in the bush. I remember as a child at school dismissal streaming out the front door with the other kids, the boys screaming "Mug him!" and the girls anxiously, titteringly, whispering about who was going to get beat up that day - sometimes that kid being my own brother. I remember playing dangerous games with knives. We knew who the crazies were and who the perverts were and knew to avoid them. My brother and I used to pull out my father's rifles from their hiding place and play with them while my parents were out of the house (despite having strict rules against it and having been well schooled in gun safety while hunting with my father). I think I would have had worried myself sick if my own children did half the things I did or were exposed to the things I was when I was a child. The thing is though that none of it was particularly remarkable or life-changing. I suppose that would be different had either my brother or I had managed to blow the other's head off.

This book will be released into the wilds of Winnipeg in the week leading up to Canada Day for gypsysmom's Canada Day release challenge. In the meantime, it is my 19th book by a Canadian male author read for John Mutford's 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh?

Journal Entry 3 by Pooker3 at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, July 05, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (7/6/2009 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada



I was going to release this book into the wild for the Canada Day release challenge, but here it is the 5th of July. So into kimmi's Canadian authors bookbox (#4) it goes.

Journal Entry 4 by Vapermom from Trenton, Ontario Canada on Thursday, July 09, 2009
Chose this novel out of the Canadian Book Box. Looking forward to reading it :)

Did you ask your Aunt and Uncle if the Okanagan portrayed in the novel is similar to how it was in the 50's?

Journal Entry 5 by Vapermom at Trenton, Ontario Canada on Thursday, January 12, 2012
About time I got around to reading this book! I enjoyed it, very descriptive. Will release today as well as I have been holding onto it for too long.

Journal Entry 6 by Vapermom at Bulk Barn in Trenton, Ontario Canada on Sunday, February 05, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (2/5/2012 UTC) at Bulk Barn in Trenton, Ontario Canada


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