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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
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The Dog Stars (edition 2012)

by Peter Heller

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1,7551484,022 (3.95)226
Member:47degreesnorth
Title:The Dog Stars
Authors:Peter Heller
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read, Read 2013 (inactive), Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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» See also 226 mentions

English (148)  Spanish (1)  All (149)
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
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 | Jul 8, 2017 |
Loved this book. Immensely readable while still literary in its execution. Just flew through the pages. Perfect voice. Great set-up for a post-apocalypse; inhabiting a rural airport after a flu wipes out most of humanity. Excellent, fully developed characters. Loved Jasper, the dog, and Hig's connection to him. Loved the pervasive sense of the outdoors - the deep love of nature despite everything - that ran through these pages. Enjoyed the flashes of humor from Hig's at times odd way of looking at the world and from the secondary characters. Got a kick that Bangley and Pops were such bad-asses compared to Hig and were always reminding him of that. At the end of the day, Hig was a deceptively simple man -- he just wanted to fish, fly, spend time with his wife and dog - but he had a poetic nature about him as well. I thought that combination of traits made him very likable, very sympathetic. I also appreciated that it ended on a hopeful note - not a false sense of hope, either, but a well-grounded sense of hope. There are some terrible people on the margins in this book, but there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Liked this book even better than The Road, not as bleak. Great book.
  wintersdoor | Jul 2, 2017 |
I listened to the audio of The Dog Stars by Peter Heller and wondered why the narrator, Mark Deakins, seemed to pause between every phrase. When I looked at a written version, I discovered the reason. There were lots of short sentences. Here's an example:

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.

The reason for this style seems to be that the main character spends a lot of the book alone, thinking about his life and life in general. To get that internal thought process across, Heller resorts to moments that get close to stream of consciousness writing. It took a little while to get used to his style, but once I did, it worked.

Hig is a widower who loved his wife. He is living in a world where most of the people have died from a flu epidemic and a blood disease that followed the flu. In this dystopian world most everyone is out for themselves, fighting off any strangers that show up in their territory. Hig lives with two companions. The first is Bangley, a violent man who believes in killing anyone who shows up in his territory. The second is Hig's dog, Jasper, with whom he shares all his thoughts.

Hig is a pilot with a working Cessna. He flies patrols along the perimeter of the area he and Bangley have declared their own. If he identifies intruders, Bangley kills them. They appear to have a lot of ammunition and a decent amount of airplane fuel.

The world they live in has problems beyond the flu and blood disease. The climate is changing and certain species are extinct or nearly extinct. There are no more trout and very few, if any, elk. However, other animals such as deer are still prevalent enough to hunt.

The novel's greatest strength is the depth of the main character's thoughts. He spends a great deal of time thinking about his past life and the limited possibilities for his future. For example:

Life and death lived inside each other. That's what occured to me. Death was inside all of us, waiting for warmer nights, a compromised system, a beetle, as in the now dying black timber on the mountains.

At times the novel feels like an outdoor life story, dwelling on the joys of fishing, hunting, and being alone in the wilderness. It also spends a decent amount of its words on radio technology, airplanes, and guns, which, along with the point of view remaining with Hig, gives it a macho feel. I had a few issues with the plot, mostly with the random changes to the world, but also one specific incident late in the story that had a simple way of being much less dangerous than it was. I won't say more than that, but I had trouble believing Hig didn't think of it.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul ( )
  SteveLindahl | Jun 10, 2017 |
I didn't click with the writing style. Thought it kind of messy. Might give it another chance in the future, though. ( )
  Wilwarin | May 23, 2017 |
A spare, beautifully-written story of a handful of people struggling to survive nine years after a world-wide flu pandemic killed about 99% of the population. At a small Colorado airport, narrator Hig lives in an uneasy alliance with Bangley, who showed up one day with a truckload of heavy weapons. Hig and his dog Jasper serve as an early warning system for Bangley, who handles defense. Hig also farms their garden, hunts, occasionally go into the nearby hills to kill a deer, and makes regular flights in an 80-year old Cessna to check their perimeter or to check in with a small group of Mennonites who live nearby. Several years after he hears a radio message from a city which is farther than his turn-back distance, when invaders into their lives seem to have wound down, Hig decides to investigate, and he discovers examples of both the positive and the negative human reaction to the devastation. Both heart-warming and truth-telling, this tale takes a good look at how a decent man deals with the necessities of continuing to live in such a future. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Apr 27, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 148 (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 editionscalculated
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:49 -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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