A Dog and His Boy
T. F. Pruden
Copyright 2014 by T.F. Pruden
Will Parker returned from World War II emotionally scarred by the war and by the pressure of his father’s upbringing, a hopeless alcoholic. Joe, fourteen years younger, was a confirmed bachelor, alcoholic, cowboy and lady’s man. Joe, a much more restless individual than Will, loved the freedom of working the ranch. Joe would never be the marrying kind, and when Will married and later bitterly separated from his wife, Joe swallowed a huge ‘I told you so’ and became Will’s partner to purchase their grandfather’s ranch near Hodgson, Manitoba a little more than a hundred miles north of Winnipeg. Will’s ex-wife, also succumbed to alcohol leaving their two son’s to the mercy of child welfare and the streets of Winnipeg. Eventually, Will and Joe’s sister brought Tommy, aged twelve, and Davey, somewhat younger, to live with Will and Joe on the ranch. Having the boys on the ranch changed Will and Joe in profound ways, except the most important one; periodic binges with women and alcohol. When Will and Joe party, the boys were left to fend for themselves. Eventually and predictably, the alcohol fuels a disaster.
This book is written in a way that, to me, makes it seem much more biographical than fictional. The author is a master at detailed description and is able to describe the minutiae of life on a primitive remote ranch in the exceedingly sharp accurate detail of a man who has seen it with his own eyes. The exploration of the emotional states of Will, Joe, Tommy, Davey and even the dogs are exhaustive, detailed and repetitive leading the reader to feel like he has received the same information over and over again. Although the author demonstrates his excellent vocabulary by using it in diverse and detailed descriptions, the sentence structure is often awkward. I believe this book would benefit from professional editing as I lost patience feeling it was much longer than it needed to be to tell the story in appropriate detail.
This is an excellent and very sad story on many levels. It should appeal to readers interested in living conditions in remote locations, in stories about animals, particularly dogs; and those with an interest in human psychology. Because of excessive repetition resulting in excessive length and often awkward sentence structure I could not give it as high a rating as the story itself and the author’s descriptive skill deserved. 3 1/2-Stars Clabe Polk
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