Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review --The Last Day's of Dogtown--

First off, this week's Friday's Favorites has so far netted one sale! Congratulations WowWall!

Now onto the book...

I finished reading The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamante and I really enjoyed it. It took me a few chapters to get into it, and for a short time, I didn't know if I could get through it...but then all of a sudden I fell in love with the characters and really wanted to know what happened to them.

This is the second book I've read by her, the first one being "The Red Tent" which was awesome, but like "Dogtown" it took me a bit to get into it.

If you are a fan of books with interesting and diverse characters, or if you are a fan of books about small towns and settlements, I would definitely recomend this book to you.


Dogtown is the derisive name for a once-promising settlement, which by 1814 has been reduced to "a collection of broken huts and hovels inhabited mostly by spinsters and widows without children, and few with so much as an extra spoon in her cupboards." Legends about the place flourish in every barroom in the neighboring towns: It's said that only witches and whores remain there, and that "they dally with their dogs." Diamant's casually episodic plot aims to reveal the real folk behind the Dogtown legends. She tracks the community's disintegration through interlocking vignettes that are punctuated by a series of funerals, while gradually exposing the secret loves and hatreds that bind these stragglers together.

Among those vignettes is the tale of Tammy Younger, a foul-mouthed skinflint universally loathed because of her taste for blackmail and her appalling mistreatment of her orphaned great-nephew. To counter the whispers of witchery that surround this figure, Diamant underscores her frailties. In one scene, Tammy nearly bleeds to death after an unsympathetic acquaintance performs some barbaric dentistry with a wedge and a mallet. Some years later, she's found face-down in a bowl of decomposing stew.

Another tragicomic scene features the drunkard and pimp John Stanwood, who is compelled to mend his ways after he spies what looks like an angel in a tree. Sober, Stanwood proves to be twice as tedious as when he was drunk, and the town sighs with relief when he abandons his religious calling.

Stanwood's partner in prostitution is Mrs. Stanley, an aging ex-beauty who presides imperiously over two miserable trollops. What makes this ménage worse than "the saddest excuse for a whorehouse" its customers have ever seen is the tenancy of Mrs. Stanley's 11-year-old grandson, who's forced to work as their house servant.

The settlement's former slaves fare even worse. Cornelius Finson's mother survived the middle passage but died of fever when he was 10. When he was 18, his masters sold their farm and set him free, but "he had no idea what to do with himself or where to go." For 20 years, he takes shelter in one half-wrecked Dogtown house after another, finding work where he can. Black Ruth dresses in men's clothing and works as a stonemason, living "day to day, without thoughts of the future or of her past." Ruth and Cornelius nod to each other on the road, but they never speak. "What would they say to each other after so many years?" Cornelius wonders.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! I havent read a book in about a year...I have a whole shelf filled with reads.I keep hoping someday soon...

  2. this sounds like a good book but I don't have time to read lately. I hope I will on my next vacation and this will be on the list.


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