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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog Stars (edition 2012)

by Peter Heller

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1,2991066,031 (3.95)176
Title:The Dog Stars
Authors:Peter Heller
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:2013, Untitled collection
Tags:fiction, literary fiction, post apocalyptic fiction

Work details

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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» See also 176 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
Enjoyed this book immensely. In a post-apocalyptic world, despite all the grief and upending of normal assumptions, an individual must go on living. Hig, the protagonist, stands between two polarities in this book--a group of Mennonites he occasionally helps, who have kept to their high moral principles and are dying, and a survivalist-friend, Bangley, who trusts no one who comes within sniper range. In the middle, with his plane and his dog, Hig copes and does what he has to do. He feels like a real Everyman, and the reader is led to ask what he would do if he were in Hig's place. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
I know I like to read a lot of post-apocalyptic books, but I think the thing that attracted me most to this book was the fact that the main character, Hig, still had and flew a plane. In many books of this genre that I've read, no one has had a plane. I was curious of how this might be an advantage or disadvantage in the story.

One thing that surprised me when I finally got into the book was that Hig wasn't completely alone with his dog, he did have one person to keep him company in a sense, Bangley. At first he was a bit of an annoying person to have around, but once you realize how helpful and knowledgeable he is, especially in areas that Hig is not. You come to really appreciate him. The characters in this book are quite fascinating and learning a little bit of their history really adds to the characters. Hig's relationship with his wife Melissa, that we learn of in flashbacks, as well as his dog Jasper are especially heartbreaking.

On the back cover there is a comparison to McCarthy's 'The Road' which I can understand how they'd seem similar. In a sense I could almost seem them existing in the same universe - 'The Road' along the east coast, and 'The Dog Stars' within Colorado. And while I really enjoyed McCarthy's book, for me the characters in this book had more depth and emotion to them. Not that the other is worse for not having it, whereas it wasn't as necessary to the story there, here I felt it really added more too it. Especially when Hig finally left their little compound, to learn the truth behind the transmission he heard. ( )
  princess_mischa | Mar 28, 2015 |
I thought that this was a beautifully written book. It takes place about 9 years after a disease wipes out most of our country. There are only 4 characters and a dog. I usually like the post apocolyptic stories that take place from day one...showing how it happens how people cope etc. So this was a very different sort of story for me but I loved it. ( )
  Verkruissen | Mar 25, 2015 |
“This is what you left, I thought. The vindication of the choice you made to leave that night. Vindication and horror. Sometimes being right isn't all it's cracked up to be: how many times in the last few years I thought about bitter fruit, how when what you are right about is-- well you can't even look at it.”
Solid 3.5! The first half was a 4 for me. I really liked reading about the world Joseph Heller built, the relationship between Hig and his dog and the way Hig's and Bangley's relationship evolved. I thought the writing was beautiful. Hig uses short sentences and not many excess words. I think that communication style really suits his character, a character that has survived through so much loss.

I didn't enjoy it as much in the second half. The romance made me lose my interest a little bit. Love scenes seem to jolt me out of stories real quickly. I am not sure what was going on with the Arab subplot (if you can call it that), but I guess Hig didn't know either! The dialogue could be hard to follow in certain passages. I specifically remember a section where Cima and Hig were talking that I had to read it several times. No quotation marks and I think that Hig's thoughts were intermingled with the dialogue.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes Post Apocalyptic fiction and isn't adverse to nature descriptions!
“There is a pain you can’t think your way out of. You can’t talk it away. If there was someone to talk to. You can walk. One foot the other foot. Breathe in breathe out. Drink from the stream. Piss. Eat the venison strips. And. You can’t metabolize the loss. It is in the cells of your face, your chest, behind the eyes, in the twists of the gut. Muscles, sinew, bone. It is all of you.

When you walk you propel it forward. When you let the sled and sit on a fallen log and. You imagine him curling in the one patch of sun maybe lying over your feet. Then it sits with you, the Pain puts its arm over your shoulders. It is your closest friend. Steadfast. And at night you can’t bear to hear your own breath unaccompanied by another and underneath the big stillness like a score is the roaring of the cataract of everything being and being torn away. Then. The Pain is lying beside your side, close. Does not bother you with sound even of breathing.” ( )
  tbritny | Mar 11, 2015 |
A 2.5 star rating, nearly a 3.0 rating. As with other reviewers, my overall impression may improve upon digestion... It was better than okay, but I am not certain who I would recommend this book to as it is written weirdly (lacking helpful punctuation). Many other reviewers are comparing this book to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. When I began reading this, I saw the similarities immediately, as well. I didn't care for The Road initially, actually, not until my book club came together to discuss the book, and then I acquired a greater appreciation for it. I read this book because it was a book club selection, too. And I suspect discussing this book with others will improve my opinion about it.

Heller took the time to help the reader to better know his characters, though much of the past is revealed slowly and, in many portions of their live previous the pandemic, indirectly, rarely coming out directly with info (about spouses, about professions, about family lost...)

( )
  olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
Heller's writing is stripped-down and minimalist, like a studio apartment in Sparta. It's an Armageddon book as written by Ernest Hemingway. The future is spare. If you see an adjective, kill it.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, John Bear (Jul 26, 2012)

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Hellerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low lead on tap, I foresee attacks.
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Book description
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return—not enough fuel to get him home—following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.

Narrated by a man who is part warrior and part dreamer, a hunter with a great shot and a heart that refuses to harden, The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307959945, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community—McMansions built along the edge of a runway—which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. He spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he’s lost—his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it’s only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, transformative, this novel is a rare combination of the literary and highly readable. --Chris Schluep

Amazon Exclusive: Author Peter Heller on the Star of The Dog Stars

Jasper the Blue Heeler Mix
The inspiration for Jasper, a Blue Heeler mix, who is an integral part of this novel.

Our Hero, Hig, lives at a little country airstrip which he shares with his beloved blue heeler Jasper, and a mean gun nut named Bangley. It's nine years after a super-flu has killed 99.7% of the people on the planet. Hig sleeps out under the open sky at night with Jasper. He does it because he loves to see the stars, and because it's safer: if marauders come he won't be trapped in one of the nearby houses.

He used to have a book of the stars, but now he doesn't, so when he's lying out at night he makes up constellations. Mostly they are animals, and he makes one for his best friend Jasper. The Dog Stars. It's Hig's way of reinventing the lost world, and keeping in touch with the things he loves.

Jasper, to me, is the star of the book. He is fiercely loyal, and he gives Hig something to live for when there is not much else to hold on to.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.95)
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1.5 1
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