I thought you were dead
by Pete Nelson









I thought you were dead
by Pete Nelson

Alternative Titles
I thought you were dead: a love story

Summary
For Paul Gustavson, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, and Stella. Stella is Paul's dog. She listens with compassion to all his complaints about the injustices of life and gives him better counsel than any human could. Their relationship is at the heart of this poignantly funny and deeply moving story about a man trying to fix his past in order to save his future.

Characters
NamePaul Gustavson
GenderMale
OccupationWriter
AttributesDivorced
Alcoholic
Owns Stella; returns to his hometown to take care of his father who suffered a stroke; takes his father's advice and quits drinking

NameCarl Gustavson
GenderMale
AttributesOverachiever
Paul's brother; invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked

NameBrits
GenderFemale
AttributesMarried
Mother
Paul's sister


Genre
Fiction
Humor

Topics
StellaFemaleDogHalf German shepherd, half yellow Labrador; able to speak to Paul
Dogs
Pets
Divorced men
Writers
Fathers and sons
Life changes
Human-animal communication
Human-animal relationships
Stroke patients
Family relationships
Brothers and sisters
Alcoholism

Setting
Connecticut -- New England (U.S.)

Time Period
1998 -- 20th century





For Paul Gustavson, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, and Stella. Stella is Paul's dog. She listens with compassion to all his complaints about the injustices of life and gives him better counsel than any human could. Their relationship is at the heart of this poignantly funny and deeply moving story about a man trying to fix his past in order to save his future.





"I thought you were dead" is what Paul Gustavson's elderly dog, Stella, tells him every time he returns home. Since dogs have such an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to life, she is honestly surprised when he turns up again. Paul is a divorced writer whose life has been in a holding pattern for a while now. A steady job writing for the "For Morons" book series, nightly trips to his local watering hole, a long-distance romance, and his loyal companion make up the compass points of Paul's life. A romantic ultimatum and family complications combine with the love of his best friend, Stella, to force Paul to make some hard choices and seriously confront the issues of adulthood for perhaps the first time. VERDICT Nelson (Left for Dead) captures the importance of a relationship between a man and his dog, especially in how it can foster and strengthen other relationships. Readers who enjoyed Spencer Quinn's Dog on It and Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain may want to check this title out.-Dan Forrest Dan Forrest is associate professor and coordinator of access services, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.





The smartest character in Nelson's latest is, unfortunately, Stella, a dog who speaks to her master, the sad, divorced, and listless writer Paul, often commenting on his lack of drive and the hours he logs at the local dive ("Do you realize you're only slightly less routinized than a cat?"). But when Paul's dad, a former Minneapolis teacher of the year, has a stroke, Paul heads home to deal with his family and his demons, leaving behind the elderly Stella and his noncommittal girlfriend, Tamsen. Paul's two worlds never meet, though his overachieving brother, Carl, and married-with-children sister, Bits, inflict their share of damage. Everything changes, though, when Paul's father begins using an instant messaging program to communicate, and after Paul unloads to his dad about his problems, his dad (literally) spells out the answer: quit drinking. Paul takes the advice, and his sobriety ends up being a cure-all. This unfortunately pat twist undermines the work Nelson put into the earlier parts of the book, and what's supposed to be a feel-good ending comes across as cheap. The characters-Stella especially-deserve better. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved






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