Synopses & Reviews
For Paul Gustavson, a hack writer for the wildly popular For Morons series, life is a succession of obstacles. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a debilitating stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, and a new pair of running shoes (he's promised himself to get in shape). And then there's Stella, the one constant in his life, who gives him sage advice, doesn't judge him, and gives him unconditional love. However, Stella won't accompany Paul into his favorite dive bar. I'll roll on dead carp, I'll even eat cat turds, but that place grosses me out. Stella, you see, is Paul's aging Lab-shepherd mix, and she knows Paul better than he knows himself.
In I Thought You Were Dead, author Pete Nelson delivers a novel that is all at once heartwarming, heartbreaking, and heart-wrenchingly funny. Most of all, it's a story that proves that when a good dog is by your side — especially one with whom you can have an engaging conversation — life can be full of surprises.
"The smartest character in Nelson's latest is, unfortunately, Stella, a dog who speaks to her master, the sad, divorced, and listless writer Paul, often commenting on his lack of drive and the hours he logs at the local dive ('Do you realize you're only slightly less routinized than a cat?'). But when Paul's dad, a former Minneapolis teacher of the year, has a stroke, Paul heads home to deal with his family and his demons, leaving behind the elderly Stella and his noncommittal girlfriend, Tamsen. Paul's two worlds never meet, though his overachieving brother, Carl, and married-with-children sister, Bits, inflict their share of damage. Everything changes, though, when Paul's father begins using an instant messaging program to communicate, and after Paul unloads to his dad about his problems, his dad (literally) spells out the answer: quit drinking. Paul takes the advice, and his sobriety ends up being a cure-all. This unfortunately pat twist undermines the work Nelson put into the earlier parts of the book, and what's supposed to be a feel-good ending comes across as cheap. The characters Stella especially deserve better." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Nelson (Left for Dead) captures the importance of a relationship between a man and his dog, especially in how it can foster and strengthen other relationships." Library Journal
"Like a big, friendly mutt — a bit too eager to please, but sweet-souled and companionable." Kirkus Reviews
"If dogs could talk, they probably would talk like Stella — kindly, sensibly, usually about food.... I Thought You Were Dead...comes down in favor of romantic risks and unconditional love. It's sweet that way." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A truly outstanding talking-dog story....With exquisite tone control, [Nelson] has given us a story that's sweet and loving but never sentimental." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nelson delivers a novel that is all at once heartwarming, heartbreaking, and heart-wrenchingly funny. Most of all, it's a story that proves that when a good dog is by one's side, life can be full of surprises.
For Paul Gustavson, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through. His wife has left him, his father has suffered a stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked. Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, and Stella.
Stella is Paul's dog. She listens with compassion to all his complaints about the injustices of life and gives him better counsel than any human could. Their relationship is at the heart of this poignantly funny and deeply moving story about a man trying to fix his past in order to save his future.
About the Author
Pete Nelson is the author of several books, including Left for Dead. He is also a singer-songwriter with a select but devoted following. He is not, however, the Pete Nelson who writes books about tree houses, although he has nothing against them. He lives in Westchester County, New York.