DOG DAYS by Daniel Lyons


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Comic coming-of-ager pits a pair of Boston computer geeks against an aging mafioso and the insular neighborhood he controls. Jewelry-encrusted, cannelloni-chomping crime lord Davio Giaccalone, a denizen of the linked stories in Lyons’s nicely turned collection, The Last Good Man (1993), now symbolizes all that’s bad, violent, old, and stupid for Reilly and Evan, a pair of workaholic, arrested-adolescent programmers who share a not-so-cheap apartment in Boston’s rapidly gentrifying working-class Italian North End neighborhood. Reilly, the Irish- nebbish narrator, is especially sensitive to the abusive taunts he receives from Giaccalone’s weight-lifting, hood-in-training nephew Tony. The latter can’t understand what Maria Bava, the neighborhood’s prized sexpot, sees in Reilly, and he uses a dispute over a bill in his uncle’s cappuccino joint to beat up Reilly and vandalize his car. Reilly, however, likes Maria only as a friend, having fallen for, and then been jilted by, the be-freckled Jeanie. He’s also having problems on the job, where a bug-filled Internet application he’s developing with Evan for a Microsoft competitor may never function properly. Lyons creates several hilarious scenes showing how craven, nasty, and hypocritical the software business can get, and then he has Reilly, feeling a need to patch up his pride, kidnap Coco, Giaccalone’s racing greyhound, for ransom that he doesn’t really need. Reilly soon discovers, though, that he’s no match for old world menace and ends up escaping to Florida with the dog, Evan, and Maria, whose relatives are higher up the criminal ladder than Giaccalone and are eager to enforce a truce after she announces that Reilly is her fiancÇ. Alas, Reilly gets cold feet about committing to Maria—but after she goes to Russia with the Peace Corps, he lights out after her. Lyons’s antihero whines and pines a bit overmuch, but his debut novel charms with its dead-on satires of fey software drones and snide Gen-Xers who—ve swapped slacker ennui for angst-filled ambition.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-84000-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


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