The Dogs of Winter

Kem Nunn, Author Scribner Book Company $24 (368p) ISBN 978-0-684-82647-9
""Surfers loved their stories. Big waves and outlaws. Eccentrics who had managed somehow to beat the system, to stay in the life when others moved inland and paid taxes."" No one knows this better than Nunn (Pomona Queen), who, after 13 years, returns to the California surfing setting of his acclaimed first novel, Tapping the Source. Despite recent screw-ups, past-his-prime surfing photographer Fletcher is hired by a glossy surfing magazine to shoot aging master Drew Harmon and a couple of hot-shot tyros at a legendary Northern California beach dubbed Heart Attacks. The assignment is a bonehead idea from the start. Harmon--a semi-recluse who lives on an Indian reservation and pitched the photo shoot for unknown reasons--has no idea where Heart Attacks actually is. He's not entirely sane, in fact, and neither is his wife, a working witch. Also, the residents of the reservation are eager for confrontation, and murderously outsized cold-water waves (known to surfers as ""dogs of winter"") pound the shoreline. The novel begins to build a head of steam as an examination of how outsiders can wreak havoc on a small community. The tone changes dramatically when the surfers hit the road and are hunted by a band of Native Americans who've burnt down Harmon's home and kidnapped his wife. But this is no chase-the-gun-down thriller, and before you can say, ""endless summer,"" the plot veers off in an even more sinister direction. Chapters alternate in perspective between those of Fletcher, Harmon's wife and a mixed-race official from the tribal council who bears the unlikely name of Travis McCade. It's hard to understand McCade's purpose in the novel since, structurally speaking, all he does is provide a sane foil for Harmon and fall for the man's wife. Fletcher serves the same functions, and more naturally. Even so, the story rides high, sped by prose as crisp as a breaking wave, as Nunn, a skilled author, once again writes deeply about a subject he knows and loves. Paperback rights to Washington Square Press; author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997
Release date: 02/01/1997
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-1-901982-35-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-7328-6
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-2515-1
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-671-79334-0
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