Recital of the Dog: A Novel

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Grove/Atlantic, Inc., Dec 1, 2007 - Fiction - 322 pages

A successful artist shoots a dog harassing his cows and descends into madness in this dark novel by the Tony Award–winning author of Sticks and Bones.

In classic works such as Hurlyburly and Streamers, David Rabe’s depictions of violence and the dark side of the human psyche have won him widespread acclaim. In Recital of the Dog, a painter who has left urban chaos for the country soon finds his hopes of tranquility shattered by a marauding intruder—a dog that torments his small herd of cows. Desperate to restore order to his world, the man shoots the dog, unwittingly unleashing a nightmare on himself. This is a tale of creation and destruction, crime and punishment, rife with insight and black comedy.

Praise for Recital of the Dog

“So primal, so dark and redeeming it should be considered taboo, and is therefore irresistible. . . . An extraordinary, powerful piece of literature.” —Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul

“David Rabe has crafted an intense, strange and frightening nightmare. . . . There is violence and intensity and vividness that a reader feels as though inhabiting the mind of a madman.” —The Denver Post

“Playwright Rabe’s first novel is a powerful, shocking portrait of a disintegrating psyche . . . fairly crackles with a dark, disturbing, often dazzling energy.” —Library Journal

“A gifted prose writer of original vision . . . In both voice and structure, Recital of the Dog owes much both to Albert Camus and James M. Cain. . . . Rabe’s beautiful, tight, fluent prose renders the fragility of reality with enormous power and grace.” —San Francisco Chronicle



Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21
Section 22
Section 23

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 24
Section 25
Section 26
Section 27
Section 28

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About the author (2007)

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Rabe was educated at Loras College and Villanova. His service in Vietnam has had a major influence on his work, particularly in his early plays. In 1971 both The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, which traces a soldier's life from basic training to an ugly and ironic death in Vietnam, and Sticks and Bones, a slightly absurdist play that combines broad satire of U.S. family life with a realistic portrayal of the suffering of a blind veteran, were produced at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Rabe's other plays of the 1970s were also produced there. Streamers (1976), which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, is the most notable of his Vietnam plays. Set in an army barracks, it is a powerful presentation of the destruction that can result from blind, uncontrolled rage. Hurlyburly (1985), which concerns the hollow lifestyle of a group of hip southern California men, began a long run on Broadway in 1984. As with many of Rabe's other plays, it explores the horrors that can result from distorted ideas of masculinity. Another recent play, Goose and Tomtom (1987), is a forceful drama about two small-time jewel thieves. In it, Rabe explores the theme of the illusory nature of reality.

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