Mystery Brady Udall Letting Loose the Hounds

ISBN 13: 9780393040333

Letting Loose the Hounds

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9780393040333: Letting Loose the Hounds

Ten quirky, bighearted tales from the contemporary West by an inspired storyteller at the beginning of his career. Think Rick Bass. Think Pam Houston. Think Walter Kirn.

Set in the small towns of Utah and Arizona, most of these stories deal with letting loose―or wanting to―in all its forms. For the family hero in "Buckeye the Elder," this means reverting to a more raucous past. In the title story, under a galaxy-filled sky, there is the eerie thrill of possible revenge. Ansie, in "The Opposite of Loneliness," risks joining a distinctly eccentric family unit despite five failed marriages (her "Purple Hearts"). The young men of "Vernon," home to 800 souls, dream of leaving but settle for the macho euphoria that comes from making loud noises and destroying things. And in "Junk Court," a handyman, not so handy with love, finds himself considering some breakout decisions.

These are sad/sweet stories, moving from the familiar to surprising destinations. But even when disaster looms, Brady Udall's fine comic sense keeps bubbling up, sustaining his men and women in their sometimes extravagant efforts to connect and cope. Plunged in the moment, these stories have velocity; they spray gravel as they take off.

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Review:

The West is a pretty grim place to live, judging by the characters who populate Brady Udall's collection of short stories, Letting Loose the Hounds. Misfits, miscreants and outcasts all, his heroes stumble miserably through a desert landscape of "petrified wood and dinosaur bones," of failed marriages, dysfunctional families and their own aching loneliness in search of reconnection to the world they've lost.

What redeems this collection, and often the characters as well, is Mr. Udall's trenchant humor and sharp appreciation for the ridiculous. No one is more aware of the absurdity of his situation than the main character of "Midnight Raid" who is caught red-handed breaking into his ex-wife's house with a pygmy goat under his arm. In "Vernon" the narrator sees the irony in returning to his dead-end hometown after a semester of college: "I liked college . . . Just the idea made me ridiculously happy . . . But I had this nervous feeling I couldn't get rid of, like something in the bottom of my gut slowly eating at my insides . . . I came back to Vernon to stay." The only recourse for these lost souls are small, often funny, always sad acts of rebellion. Mr. Udall's West might not be a great place to live, but in Letting Loose the Hounds it makes for a compelling visit.

About the Author:

Brady Udall is the author of New York Times bestseller The Lonely Polygamist, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and Letting Loose the Hounds. He teaches at Boise State University and lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and children.

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Brady Udall
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