J. M. DeMatteis, Author, Glenn Barr, Illustrator, Bob Lappan, Illustrator . Paradox Press $12.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4012-0051-0

On an ordinary night in an ordinary Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1960s, Vincent Carl Santini, alienated high school senior and budding philosopher, meets his guardian angel in the form of a stray dog. It takes the length of this book to tell readers why this hound is so special, and details are still murky at story's end. But Carl spins such a madly glorious tale of the confusion and transcendence of his teen years that readers may excuse his wanderings. DeMatteis's story is hypnotic, and Barr's b&w artwork keeps pace with the plot's twists, swooping from pencil to watercolor to ink as he captures the wild enthusiasms and fears of Carl's world. The book begins with Carl depicted as a Masterpiece Theater sort of narrator, sitting alone in a chair, waiting to raise the curtain on his senior year in high school. The set is an archetypal apartment building in a solidly middle-class neighborhood. The cast includes Carl, his best friend and Carl's volatile family. His father is a brash, emotional Italian; his mother is a nervous Jew. Sixteen-year-old Carl mostly sits on his stoop and reads, as jaded with life as only a teenager can be. The stray appears and Carl adopts it, but gives it away at the local police precinct. A few weeks later he's back at the station, this time taken in for drug possession. In between these two episodes, Carl recalls earlier memories of friends, the black humor of his Uncle Fred's funeral, his parents' bottomless capacity for melodrama, and life's meaning. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 1 pages - 978-1-4176-2485-0
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-1-61377-080-1
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