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The Dog Stars
Cover of The Dog Stars
The Dog Stars
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Hig somehow survived the flu pandemic that killed everyone he knows. Now his wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a...
Hig somehow survived the flu pandemic that killed everyone he knows. Now his wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a...
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Description-

  • Hig somehow survived the flu pandemic that killed everyone he knows. Now his wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a mercurial, gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.

    But when a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists outside their tightly controlled perimeter. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return and follows its static-broken trail, only to find something that is both better and worse than anything he could ever hope for.
    The ebook edition contains a reading group guide.

 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    iI keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low lead on tap, I foresee attacks. I am young enough, I am old enough. I used to love to fish for trout more than almost anything.

    My name is Hig, one name. Big Hig if you need another.

    If I ever woke up crying in the middle of a dream, and I'm not saying I did, it's because the trout are gone every one. Brookies, rainbows, browns, cutthroats, cutbows, every one.

    The tiger left, the elephant, the apes, the baboon, the cheetah. The titmouse, the frigate bird, the pelican (gray), the whale (gray), the collared dove. Sad but. Didn't cry until the last trout swam upriver looking for maybe cooler water.

    Melissa, my wife, was an old hippy. Not that old. She looked good. In this story she might have been Eve, but I'm not Adam. I am more like Cain. They didn't have a brother like me.

    Did you ever read the Bible? I mean sit down and read it like it was a book? Check out Lamentations. That's where we're at, pretty much. Pretty much lamenting. Pretty much pouring our hearts out like water.

    They said at the end it would get colder after it gets warmer. Way colder. Still waiting. She's a surprise this old earth, one big surprise after another since before she separated from the moon who circles and circles like the mate of a shot goose.

    No more geese. A few. Last October I heard the old bleating after dusk and saw them, five against the cold bloodwashed blue over the ridge. Five all fall, I think, next April none.

    I hand pump the 100 low lead aviation gas out of the old airport tank when the sun is not shining, and I have the truck too that was making the fuel delivery. More fuel than the Beast can burn in my lifetime if I keep my sorties local, which I plan to, I have to. She's a small plane, a 1956 Cessna 182, really a beaut. Cream and blue. I'm figuring I'm dead before the Beast gives up the final ghost. I will buy the farm. Eighty acres of bottomland hay and corn in a country where there is still a cold stream coming out of the purple mountains full of brookies and cuts.

    Before that I will make my roundtrips. Out and back.



  • I have a neighbor. One. Just us at a small country airport a few miles from the mountains. A training field where they built a bunch of houses for people who couldn't sleep without their little planes, the way golfers live on a golf course. Bangley is the name on the registration of his old truck, which doesn't run anymore. Bruce Bangley. I fished it out of the glove box looking for a tire pressure gauge I could take with me in the Beast. A Wheat Ridge address. I don't call him that, though, what's the point, there's only two of us. Only us for at least a radius of eight miles, which is the distance of open prairie to the first juniper woods on the skirt of the mountain. I just say, Hey. Above the juniper is oak brush then black timber. Well, brown. Beetle killed and droughted. A lot of it standing dead now, just swaying like a thousand skeletons, sighing like a thousand ghosts, but not all. There are patches of green woods, and I am their biggest fan. I root for them out here on the plain. Go Go Go Grow Grow Grow! That's our fight song. I yell it out the window as I fly low over. The green patches are spreading year by year. Life is tenacious if you give it one little bit of encouragement. I could swear they hear me. They wave back, wave their feathery arms back and forth down low by their sides, they remind me of women in kimonos. Tiny steps or no steps, wave wave hands at your sides.

    I go up there on foot when I can. To the greener woods. Funny to say that: not like I have to clear my calendar. I go up to breathe. The different...

About the Author-

  • PETER HELLER is the best-selling author of three novels, including The Painter and Celine. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook,The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 11, 2012
    In the tradition of postapocalyptic literary fiction such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse, this hypervisceral first novel by adventure writer Heller (Kook) takes place nine years after a superflu has killed off much of mankind. Hig, an amateur pilot living in Colorado, has retreated to an abandoned airport from which he flies sorties in “the Beast,” his vintage Cessna, over isolated pockets of survivors. His only neighbor is the survivalist Bangley, who’s sitting on a stockpile of weapons and munitions, and the only visitors are plague survivors who have descended into savagery. Hig’s one real comfort, besides the memory of his dead wife, Melissa, who fell victim to the flu while pregnant, is his dog, Jasper. But when that comfort is withdrawn, Hig flies west in search of the radio voice that called out to him three years before. Instead, he ends up being shot down and restrained by a doctor named Cima and her shotgun-toting father, a former Navy SEAL. With its evocative descriptions of hunting, fishing, and flying, this novel, perhaps the world’s most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero’s zombie flicks. From start to finish, Heller carries the reader aloft on graceful prose, intense action, and deeply felt emotion. Agent: David Halpern, the Robbins Office.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2012
    A post-apocalyptic novel in which Hig, who only goes by this mononym, finds not only survival, but also the possibility of love. As in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the catastrophe that has turned the world into its cataclysmic state remains unnamed, but it involves "The Blood," a highly virulent and contagious disease that has drastically reduced the population and has turned most of the remaining survivors into grim hangers-on, fiercely protective of their limited territory. Hig lives in an abandoned airplane hangar and keeps a 1956 Cessna, which he periodically takes out to survey the harsh and formidable landscape. While on rare occasions he spots a few Mennonites, fear of "The Blood" generally keeps people at more than arm's length. Hig has established a defensive perimeter by a large berm, competently guarded by Bangley, a terrifying friend but exactly the kind of guy you want on your side, since he can pot intruders from hundreds of yards away, and he has plenty of firepower to do it. Haunted by a voice he heard faintly on the radio, Hig takes off one day in search of fellow survivors and comes across Pops and Cima, a father and daughter who are barely eking out a living off the land by gardening and tending a few emaciated sheep. Like Bangley, Pops is laconic and doesn't yield much, but Hig understandably finds himself attracted to Cima, the only woman for hundreds of miles and a replacement for the ache Hig feels in having lost his pregnant wife, Melissa, years before. Although Heller creates with chilling efficiency the bleakness of a world largely bereft of life as we know it, he holds out some hope that human relationships can be redemptive.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2012

    Great expectations for this first novel, featuring a pilot lost in a world gutted by a flu pandemic. When he receives a random radio transmission, he realizes that he's not alone. Heller comes naturally by the edgy adventure promised here. A contributing editor at Outside Magazine and National Geographic Adventure, he is also author of Hell or High Water, an account of a daring 2002 whitewater expedition through eastern Tibet's Tsangpo Gorge--so remote and dangerous that it had never been fully navigated. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Junot Díaz, The Wall Street Journal "Extraordinary. . . . One of those books that makes you happy for literature."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "This end-of-the-world novel [is] more like a rapturous beginning. . . . Remarkable."
  • Glen Duncan, author of The Last Werewolf "For all those who thought Cormac McCarthy's The Road the last word on the post-apocalyptic world--think again. . . . Make time and space for this savage, tender, brilliant book."
  • Minneapolis Star-Tribune "Heart-wrenching and richly written. . . . The Dog Stars is a love story, but not just in the typical sense. It's an ode to friendship between two men, a story of the strong bond between a human and a dog, and a reminder of what is worth living for."
  • The Seattle Times "Heartbreaking"
  • The New Yorker "A brilliant success."
  • The Missourian "A book that rests easily on shelves with Dean Koontz, Jack London or Hemingway."
  • Jennifer Reese, NPR "Dark, poetic, and funny."
  • Outside "Terrific. . . . Recalling the bleakness of Cormac McCarthy and the trout-praising beauty of David James Duncan, The Dog Stars makes a compelling case that the wild world will survive the apocalypse just fine; it's the humans who will have the heavy lifting."
  • Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins "Take the sensibility of Hemingway. Or James Dickey. Place it in a world where a flu mutation has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the population. Add in a heartbroken man with a fishing rod, some guns, a small plane. Don't forget the dog. Now imagine this man retains more hope than might be wise in such a battered and brutal time. More trust. More hunger for love--more capacity for it, too. That's what Peter Heller has given us in his beautifully written first novel."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred) "With its evocative descriptions of hunting, fishing, and flying, [The Dog Stars], perhaps the world's most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero's zombie flicks."
  • The Dallas Morning News "The Dog Stars can feel less like a 21st-century apocalypse and more like a 19th-century frontier narrative (albeit one in which many, many species have become extinct). There are echoes of Grizzly Adams or Jeremiah Johnson in scenes where Heller lingers on the details of how the water in a flowing stream changes color as the sun moves across the sky."
  • The Oklahoman "Full of action and hope.... One you'll not soon forget."
  • The New York Journal of Books "A heavenly book, a stellar achievement by a debut novelist that manages to combine sparkling prose with truly memorable, shining, characters."
  • Playboy "Gruff, tormented and inspirational, Heller has the astonishing ability to make you laugh, cringe and feel ridiculously vulnerable throughout the novel that will have you rereading certain passages with a hard lump in the pit of your stomach. One of the most powerful reads in years."
  • Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted "The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut."
  • Aspen Daily News "Beautiful, haunting and hopeful. . . . Makes your breath catch and your heart ache."
  • Salt Lake City Weekly "At times funny, at times thrilling, at times simply heartbreaking and always rich with a love of nature, The Dog Stars finds a peculiar poetry in deciding that there's really no such thing as the end of the world--just a series of decisions about how we live in whatever world we've got."
  • The Stranger "What separates Heller's book from other End of Days stories is that it doesn't rely on the thematic fail-safes to tell the story--The Dog Stars is quite simply the story of what it's like to be alonet."
  • Cincinnati City Beat "Heller has created a heartbreakingly moving love story. . . . It's an ode to what we've lost so far, and how we risk losing everything."
  • Flavorwire "A stunning, hope-riddled end-of-the-world story. . . . Bound to become a classic."
  • Julianna Baggott, author of Pure "Heller is a masterful storyteller and The Dog Stars is a beautiful tribute to the resilience of nature and the relentless human drive to find meaning and deep connections with life and the living."
  • Shelf Awareness "Terrific . . . With echoes of Moby Dick, The Dog Stars . . . brings Melville's broad, contempla

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