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The dog stars
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Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog -- his only neighbor, a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life -- something like his old life -- exists beyond the airport.
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*Starred Review* Outdoor life has been the focus of Heller's award-winning nonfiction. In his gripping first novel, his gift for action and appreciation for prowess and courage fuel a harrowing yet charming postapocalyptic tale. The book's complex spell is cast by its tough yet sensitive can-do narrator, Hig. Happiest while trout fishing, he's a skilled hunter, daring pilot, and poet turned outdoorsy writer. Hig misses his wife, who died in the nation-crushing pandemic, dearly loves his dog, and is both leery of and grateful for Bangley, an older guy of few words but immense tenacity, military know-how, and firepower. They are holed up in a small Colorado airport, fighting off intermittent assaults by bands of murderous survivors. Richly evocative yet streamlined journal entries propel the high-stakes plot while simultaneously illuminating Hig's nuanced states of mind as isolation and constant vigilance exact their toll, along with his sorrow for the dying world as global warming worsens. Hig takes long, risky, meditative walks; tends the garden; and stubbornly takes to the air in a 1956 Cessna, searching for some remnant of civilization. Heller's surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor creates a cunning form of cognitive dissonance neatly pegged by Hig as an apocalyptic parody of Norman Rockwell a novel, that is, of spiky pleasure and signal resonance.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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