As Evan struggles with his finances and career, he grows increasingly agitated that his neighbors allow their dog to freely roam the neighborhood. Is freedom all in a man's mind? Is one man's freedom another man's mess? In "We're Not Dog People," Jim Breslin explores these themes with humor and compassion in this story of a man's downward spiral.
Bonus: This single comes with a B side. "The Pasture" is short story about a life lived and love lost. In the course of a day at the beach house with his son and grandchildren, Frank Bausch reflects on life with his late wife Aggie, his son Scott's transformation and the sign his grandson will carry on the family legacy.
The two pieces in this collection, “We Are Not Dog People” and “The Pasture” focus on the lives of two ordinary American men. Both men are unremarkable, but it is this unremarkableness that makes them so believable to the reader. They could be anyone’s father or brother or neighbor. There are no fantastical settings, dramatic plot twists or attempts at profundity in these stories. Instead, Breslin relies on clean, effortless writing to draw the reader in and turn average people doing average things into an enjoyable and satisfying story. It is realism at its best.
“We Are Not Dog People” seems almost an unfinished piece, coming to an abrupt end that at first left me, at first, wondering if I was missing a few lines or even a page. However, Breslin’s stories are more about the actual telling of a story than the resolution of plot, something he demonstrates more successfully in the second story, “The Pasture.”
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet