Dog Training the American Male by L.A. Knight

Dog Training the American Male

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In Knight’s comic debut novel, a relationship expert turns to dog-training strategies in order to domesticate her incorrigible boyfriend and save her flagging career.

Nancy is a psychologist and relationship specialist who hosts a radio talk show in West Palm Beach. After two failed engagements, she’s taken herself off the dating market. Unfortunately for her, this means no one is much interested in her advice. Her listenership is evaporating, and she’s been forced to move in with her sister and her sister’s bodybuilding girlfriend. Jacob is a recovering Wall Street software programmer undergoing a crisis of purpose. He works at a customer-service call center and lives in his brother’s guesthouse with a Yoko Ono–inspired blowup doll. After Nancy and Jacob meet on a blind date, their harried siblings prematurely encourage them to move into a place of their own. Their personalities clash, and the situation isn’t improved by the introduction of a poorly trained German shepherd to the household. The dog does give Nancy an idea, however. To increase her audience and save her relationship, she begins using canine training tactics on Jacob and then describing them on her radio show. Though initially effective, man proves to be a surprisingly complex animal, and Nancy’s inspired idea leads to complications that threaten to ruin her love life and livelihood. The book is funny in the best way: the humor propels the action rather than pausing it. Though Knight sometimes lacks subtlety when it comes to characterization (new characters’ ages, occupations, and ethnicities are rattled off as soon as they enter a scene), and the dialogue is sometimes overly expositional, the authorial hand is mostly well-hidden, and the prose flows like a jocular babbling brook. More impressively, the central characters transcend their stock roles and grow into legitimately compelling subjects. Incident by unlikely incident, we are pulled deeper into their lives until it is their fates (not merely their quips) that keep us turning the pages. Knight is a naturally comic writer; what is more, she is a talented storyteller.

A lighthearted work with well-drawn characters and genuine laughs.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1630760175
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2015


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