978-0-393-04033-3 / 9780393040333

Letting Loose the Hounds


Publisher:W. W. Norton



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About the book:

The West is a pretty grim place to live, judging by the characters who populate Brady Udall's collection of short stories, Letting Loose the Hounds. Misfits, miscreants and outcasts all, his heroes stumble miserably through a desert landscape of "petrified wood and dinosaur bones", of failed marriages, dysfunctional families and their own aching loneliness in search of reconnection to the world they've lost.

What redeems this collection, and often the characters as well, is Mr. Udall's trenchant humour and sharp appreciation for the ridiculous. No one is more aware of the absurdity of his situation than the main character of "Midnight Raid" who is caught red-handed breaking into his ex-wife's house with a pygmy goat under his arm. In "Vernon" the narrator sees the irony in returning to his dead-end hometown after a semester of college: "I liked college ... Just the idea made me ridiculously happy ... But I had this nervous feeling I couldn't get rid of, like something in the bottom of my gut slowly eating at my insides ... I came back to Vernon to stay." The only recourse for these lost souls is small, often funny, yet always sad acts of rebellion. Mr Udall's West might not be a great place to live, but in Letting Loose the Hounds it makes for a compelling visit.

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