An epic novel of unrequited dreams and forestalled lives, Red Dog, Red Dog is set in the mid-1950s, in a small town in the interior of B.C. in the Okanagan Valley. The novel focuses on the Stark family, centring on brothers Eddy and Tom, who are bound together by family loyalty and inarticulate love.
There is Tom and Eddy’s father, Elmer Stark, a violent man with a troubled past, and Lillian, who married as a girl to escape life on the farm with her widowed mother, and now retreats into her own isolation. Unrepentant, bitter, older brother Eddy speeds freely along, his desperate path fuelled by drugs and weapons, while Tom, a loner, attempts to conceal their secrets and protect what remains of the family. Eventually, an unspeakable crime causes him to come face to face with something traumatic that has lain hidden in him since he was a boy. Narrated in part by one of the dead infant daughters Elmer has buried, the story unfolds gradually, as it weaves in family stories that reach back to the depression days and the harsh life of settlers in the 1880s West.
This is also a novel about a small community of people, about complicated loyalties, about betrayals and shifts of power. Filled with moments of harrowing violence and breathtaking description, of shattering truths and deep humanity, Red Dog, Red Dog is about the legacies of the past and the possibilities of forgiveness and redemption. With this astonishing novel, one of Canada’s best poets propels himself into the forefront of our finest novelists.
Finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
A Best Book of the Year, The Globe and Mail
Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
Longlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Waterstone’s New Voices 2010 selection (UK)
Selected as a
Top Ten Outsider’s Story by Stephen Kelman (Guardian UK)
“Occasionally a novel comes out of nowhere and blows you away. This is one of those. ... The writing is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy at times, spare and beautifully crafted; at other points it recalls William Faulkner. This is an impressive debut from a name to watch.” —Waterstone’s Books Quarterly (UK)
“Not since reading John McGahern’s That They May Face The Rising Sun have I come across a novel which so surely places the lives of its characters in the context of their landscape; but whereas with McGahern that landscape was local, intimate, and rewarding to those who worked it well, Patrick Lane’s land is wild and barren, unforgiving, and populated by a scarred and hunted people. Red Dog, Red Dog is a shock of a novel; immaculately crafted, deeply thoughtful, and with a broken-hearted wisdom about the ways in which damage can fall through the generations. There is little to celebrate in the world these characters inhabit, but much to admire about the way Lane has revealed it to his readers. A work of great and unconsoled love.” —Jon McGregor, author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
“Lane’s exquisite craftsmanship is on display…particularly his unerring instinct for images that wound and enlighten in equal measure.” —The Globe and Mail
“To read Red Dog, Red Dog is a full-body, immersive experience. As one might expect from a poet, every word is carefully chosen, and honed to a razor sharpness. ...rare moments of beauty are depicted with an unsentimental clarity, while violence and boodshed are starkly beautiful.” —Focus
“Superlative, poetic, almost-epic writing, somewhat reminiscent of Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.” —Edmonton Journal
“A rich variant on Cormac McCarthy’s biblically cadenced western noir and Flannery O’Connor’s Southern gothic. Patrick Lane has made an uncommonly late fiction debut, but Red Dog, Red Dog’s completeness and wisdom make a very good argument for waiting until the time is just right.”
“[Patrick] Lane is undeniably an accomplished writer.” —Times Literary Supplement (UK)
“An unflinchingly dark and brutal book, the violence and anger matched only by the sublime radiance of the prose….Red Dog, Red Dog is audacious….While the novel is of a time and place, its significance is universal….It is the culmination of decades of reading and writing and thinking.”
—Victoria Times Colonist
“Lane’s prose glows with texture and depth….This novel has been compared to Faulkner’s work, but a closer link is Canadian Sheila Watson’s 1959 experimental classic The Double Hook. Red Dog, Red Dog occupies the same landscape, geographic and spiritual, as Watson’s fragmented mythic story. Lane’s language, like Watson’s, is stripped to the essentials at some points, carrying the terrifying and explosive power of violent men with nothing to lose.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“Patrick Lane’s Red Dog, Red Dog is a tale of blood, loyalty and redemption. The novel centers on Eddy and Tom Stark, two brothers struggling with their hardscrabble inheritance in the Okanagan Valley. Theirs is a fiercely unforgiving world, and, for the reader, an unforgettable one. The strength of Lane’s perfectly cadenced prose may bring to mind Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy and, inevitably, The Bible. There is a deep wisdom in this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.” —Richard Bachman, A Different Drummer Books
“Faulkneresque.” —Toronto Star
“I would place Lane in the company of David Adams Richards or such U.S. writers as Cormac McCarthy, Tom Franklin and Daniel Woodrell…. Lane's insight into the dark corners of the human psyche is what keeps us interested in these sad, woebegone souls. Moreover, he writes prose with the felicity of the poet. I found myself regularly rereading phrases, sentences and passages in response to the sheer, hard-edged beauty of the writing.” —Waterloo Region Record
“Red Dog, Red Dog reveals itself to be not only a searing portrait of a time and place so often the stuff of cliché but also a noir-ish thriller when Eddy inevitably goes too far. ...a really impressive debut.” —The Metro (UK)
“Lane is talented and five decades as a poet are evident in his prose: rich and evocative, yet always precise.” —The Observer (UK)
Length: 320 pp
Canadian rights, McClelland & Stewart
Dutch rights, Signatuur/A.W. Bruna
Greek rights, Kastaniotis
UK rights, Heinemann
For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.
Patrick Lane has been called the best poet of his generation. His poetry, according to the Vancouver Sun, “has always had the impact of a switchblade pulled at a tea party.” He won the Governor General’s Award in 1979 for Poems, New and Selected, a prize for which he has been short-listed several times. He has won and been nominated for countless other awards. He lives near Victoria, British Columbia, with his wife, the poet Lorna Crozier.
Patrick Lane’s website can be found at www.patricklane.ca