Winner of the 2018 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, this debut story collection explores the lives of down-and-out characters in the American Rust Belt, where they struggle to maintain social bonds in brutal landscapes that scrape away at their humanity.
Like the steps on the cover, Mr. Felver lays his words down in these stories in such a precise way that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to pull yourself away from a story once you’ve started ... Mr. Felver’s writing also hooked me at a very important point for any story: the first line ... While it was tempting at times to jump around from story to story, there was no escaping the next tale once I’d seen its opening line ... For me, what was most absorbing was the onslaught of obstacles thrown in the way of all the characters, but also the various levels of grit and resilience they took to persevere ... This book is full of stories that speak to me as an ordinary person and my experiences. This book will do the same for other readers. There is hope and value in all the gritty, passionate, difficult storytelling that Brad Felver delivers.
Most of his characters inhabit burnt-out Rust Belt cities, tapped-out farms, and northeastern urban slums. Their worldviews and experiences verge on post-apocalyptic, but these stories are far more frightening and grim than run-of-the-mill horror because the author delivers what good fiction can: amplified truth—in this case, vividly imagined and rendered worst-case scenarios that reflect our current world in a very dark mirror. These can be read as true horror stories, as cautionary tales, or as imagined front-line reporting ... Brutally honest, Felver explores the effects of emotional and financial scarcity on families. Many of the parents and children on these pages subsist in economic and social circumstances ripe for breeding violence and hatred; many are perpetrators or victims of abuse—and sometimes both at once ... All of Felver’s stories are searing ... The Dogs of Detroit is not an easy or light read, but it is prescient and timely given our current political and societal moment of divisiveness, hate-mongering, fear, and anger.
Though uniformly well-crafted, these are gritty stories that often touch on brutal subject matter. In their depiction of men dealing with hardship and loss, it’s the raw, sometimes-violent emotions of anger and regret that the author closely examines, and yet there are also genuine moments of poignancy ... Felver’s writing is sharp and insightful. His stories evoke the style and themes of writers ranging from Richard Russo to Rick Bass to Andre Dubus III and...Cormac McCarthy. A substantial debut by a promising and confident new writer.