A captivating story of one dog’s experience of crisis and healing, illustrated with the author’s evocative portraits of...

Punitive Damages

A kindhearted couple rescues a down-on-her-luck Weimaraner, but now all parties must face a five-day trial period.

Stories of animal-human bonding are not uncommon, but what sets Lively’s (The Puzzle Aesthetic, 2012) novella apart is the fact that the story is told from the point of view of a dog. When readers first meet the story’s protagonist, a Weimaraner, she is on a hospital bed being treated for injuries from an accident she can’t remember. As her mind clears, she realizes that she has no recollection of anything from her previous life, not even her name. But she becomes ever more certain that she “must be of aristocratic stock,” as she is all too aware of the indignities of institutional life in the animal hospital as she heals from her fractured leg and broken teeth. She is eventually adopted by a “grumpy guy” and his “kinder and gentler” female partner, who give her the name PJ. As the three get to know each other, PJ teaches her new owners about her needs by using her wits and dexterity to escape from every restraint and enclosure, often with hilariously destructive results. Although the man becomes increasingly irritated with each new transgression, his essential good nature, coupled with the patient and perceptive influence of the woman, leads to eventual understanding and true friendship between dog and human. Lively’s writing is vivid and engaging, and he creates three believable and memorable characters. His detailed description of PJ’s perspective on the trial period of her adoption may offer important insights to help new pet owners understand the emotional needs that lie behind destructive behavior. The author skillfully introduces PJ’s point of view, with a focus on scent that makes it realistically doglike. But developing such an alternative narration becomes complex, and Lively never makes it clear how PJ can understand the couple’s English conversations perfectly, yet she seems unable to communicate directly with the other dogs she encounters. Such inconsistencies jar a little, and a reader is left feeling that PJ’s existence must be a little lonely with so much knowledge and so few ways to express herself. Perhaps a series of PJ books is in order to allow the further exploration of the inner world of dogs.

A captivating story of one dog’s experience of crisis and healing, illustrated with the author’s evocative portraits of Weimaraners.

Pub Date: June 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939166-97-5

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Merrimack Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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