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The Dog of the Marriage: Stories Hardcover – 15 Feb 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: SOS Free Stock (15 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743264517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743264518
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,094,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amy Hempel's compassion, intensity, and illuminating observations have made her one of the most distinctive and admired modern writers. In three stunning books of stories, she has established a voice as unique and recognizable as the photographs of Cindy Sherman or the brushstrokes of Robert Motherwell. "The Dog of the Marriage, " Hempel's fourth collection, is about sexual obsession, relationships gone awry, and the unsatisfied longings of everyday life. In "Offertory," a modern-day Scheherazade entertains and manipulates her lover with stories of her sexual encounters with a married couple as a very young woman. In "Reference # 388475848-5," a letter contesting a parking ticket becomes a beautiful and unnerving statement of faith. In "Jesus Is Waiting," a woman driving to New York sends a series of cryptically honest postcards to an old lover. And the title story is a heartbreaking tale about the objects and animals and unmired desires that are left behind after death or divorce. These nine stories teem with wisdom, emotion, and surprising wit. Hempel explores the intricate psychology of people falling in and out of love, trying to locate something or someone elusive or lost. Her sentences are as lean, original, and startling as any in contemporary fiction.

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The house next door was rented for the summer to a couple who swore at missed croquet shots. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Olivia Bockoff on 14 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book was awful
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Intense and without equal 19 Nov. 2006
By Mr. Richard K. Weems - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are many people who try to imitate Hempel's style, but in the end no one can touch the true depth of the original. The density of her work, where almost every sentence (nay, maybe even every syllable) contains every level of storytelling thin and superficial readers like "Gracie" obviously missed, is phenomenal. Hempel may not be a quick read, but she is certainly worth the extra effort.

Also impressive about Hempel is how she is able to subtly shift her tones in her stories. There is a constant level of precision and tight editing to her words, even in humorous, sad and even terrifying moments. Her tight language persists whether describing the freedom of being on the open road or being the victim of an attempted rape. Yet the differing tones of these moments come across clearly. This is masterful writing.

The stories of this collection, much like a lot of Hempel's other work, plot themselves through the emotions of the characters involved. In "Reference #388475848-5," an appeal regarding a traffic ticket involves the entirety of the narrator's life, and stories like "The Afterlife" and "Offertory" examine the connections people forge that may not be lasting, but do offer some individual solace. "Jesus is Waiting" and "The Uninvited" explore emotional purging through outer activity (through obsessive driving or volunteering at a rape crisis center), but like the true stories of life, nothing ever resolves easily, and often can't.

Hempel does at times play the metaphor or intensity cards a little too hard with pieces like "What Were the White Things?" and "Memoir," but overall this is yet another strong collection of fiction from a writer with a scary level of talent--in a sentence, she has the ability to summate the emptiness and joys of a life...yet, she still has more to offer with the very next...
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Optical Illusion 1 Mar. 2005
By Nicholas E. Sweeney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Voltaire once said: "The secret to being dull and tedious consists in our saying everything."

Amy Hempel could have said the same thing, but she would have used less words in doing so.

I do believe Amy Hempel has to pay for every word she types. I also believe because of this, she chooses her words wisely.

Regardless, Amy Hempel had to have made a deal with the Devil to become the greatest English language writer ever to have walked the earth. What she bargained for to gain such a title I don't care, so long as she keeps writing.

Having read every one of Ms. Hempel's books, it's nearly impossible to compare one with another, because every book gives me at least 1,000 quips and ideas that I pawn off as my own in order to make myself look wittier and deeper than I actually am. So I won't do that.

Nor will I review "Marriage of the Dog" story by story. For two reasons: 1) I don't want to and 2) see the opening quote.

Amy Hempel's writing compels you to read her stories over and over and over again. The stories are so chock full of tiny little details that I sometimes forget if i read about driving on the New Jersey Turnpike ("Jesus is Waiting") or if I did it myself; I forget if I received a parking citation from while living in New York City ("REFERENCE #388475848-5") or if I read about it. It's that consuming.

And she's that good.

Hempel writes in big airy strokes but is so very precise at the same time. Confused? Just read her work. She shows rather than tells. She gives you such intimate, precise details about these characters that you swear you've met them. Yet she lets you fill in the gaps of her stories, again causing that blend of fiction and reality.

The book isn't perfekt, though. The last story, "Olfactory," is often too serious for its own good. Reading it, I couldn't help but think of an SNL sketch with Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch sitting in a hot tub and talking about their respective "luvvas." Too bad it's the longest story in the book.

But otherwise...the language...the imagery...the emotions. "Marriage of the Dog" is Amy Hempel's first book in seven years; it's refreshing to know she hasn't lost any of her tart wit or insight into the human condition. This book gets five stars just for the shear brilliance of it--it's unlike any other book and is amazing almost by default.

"Marriage of the Dog," like most of Hempel's work, is an optical illusion: how could so few words pack such a wallop? If Honda could squeeze the same kind of power out of gasoline, the energy crisis would be solved.

My favorite quote: "...the way people flatter you by wanting to know every last thing about you, only it's not a compliment, it's just efficient, a person getting more quickly to the end of you."

I'll leave you with another quote that best describes Hempel's writing:

"What I like in a good writer is not what [s]he says, but what [s]he whispers."

--Logan Pearsall Smith
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
perfect 7 Mar. 2005
By Irene M. Piekarski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Wow! These stories are terrific: spare and revealing, diamond sharp, and funny , too. This is the best writing I've read in ages--thank god for Amy Hempl.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Another great collection by Hempel... 5 Jun. 2005
By CoffeeGurl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having read Reasons to Live and Tumble Home, I had looked forward to reading another short fiction collection by Amy Hempel. The Dog of the Marriage deals with subjects that are quite popular in short fiction -- romantic relationships gone awry. However, Hempel adds her own remarkable voice and compelling storytelling to her stories. The stories that touch on the subjects of obsessive love or ruined marriages are the most wonderful ones. My favorite stories are "Jesus Is Waiting," "The Afterlife," "Memoir," "The Uninvited," and "Offertory." The aforementioned stories are often dark and heartbreaking. This isn't the best Hempel collection I have read (Reasons to Live, in my opinion, is her most accomplished collection), but it is definitely that I'd recommend to all short fiction lovers out there.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Breathtaking 5 Mar. 2005
By M. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This collection, like all of her work, is simply breathtaking. To me she and Raymond Carver are in a class all their own. Her work is special. My favorites in this collection are, "What Were the White Things," and "The Dog of Marriage." Both stories made me laugh out loud, and cry.

There are no other writers today as beautiful.
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