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Letting Loose the Hounds


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About the Author

Brady Udall is the author of New York Times bestseller The Lonely Polygamist, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and Letting Loose the Hounds. He teaches at Boise State University and lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and children.


In this first collection of short stories, Udall breathes fresh life into tales of the modern West, where cowboys drive pickup trucks, Native Americans live in mobile homes, and the desert is just past the next subdivision. Set mostly in rural Utah and Arizona, these bittersweet stories of men and women are tinged with comedy. In "Midnight Raid," a drunken father attempts to sneak a pet goat for his son into his ex-wife's home. Also memorable is the "Ballad of the Ball and Chain," where a bachelor party prank has unforseen, tragic consequences. The characters speak in the first person, and their words flow with the raw emotion and natural dialog of a Sam Sheppard play. The writing is full of colorful language, slang, and the rhythm of everyday speech. Characters rage, curse, and contemplate without pausing for breath while the reader is propelled forward because, as the old woman in "Snake" says, "somebody hand over their whole life to you and you got to be a little curious." Udall, whose work has been published in several national magazines, has a bright future in fiction. Recommended for all fiction collections.‘Charlotte L. Glover, Ketchikan P.L., Ak.

"Exhilarating or chilling ... Udall's stories can be as funny as they are dark." -- Jim Shepard - The New York Times Book Review "Udall's West emerges as a place of passion and despair without the mythic overtones of gunslingers and Marlboro men. It is a place filled with as much laughter as tears, and a place that I hope we hear from again quite soon." -- Michael A. Elliott - Boston Book Review "One of the top writers of his generation... Brady Udall's stories, full of comedy and pain and trouble, carry a mighty kick." -- Thom Jones, author of The Pugilist at Rest "Brady Udall works with a whole lot of grace and an exquisite eye for detail. His characters find redemption in the utterly surprising places we suspected it lurked all along." -- Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness "Bittersweet...memorable...Udall breathes fresh life into tales of the modern West." -- Library Journal "Funny, unpredictable, and abounding with strange beauty." -- Outside Magazine "An irresistible performance." -- Judith Freeman, author of Red Water "There is a wonderful innocence in Udall's narrative voice, a risk and edge to these stories that make for delightful reading. ... Letting Loose the Hounds has a great deal of meat to it, nothing sliced thin and served on a bed of watercress... Always under the surface, there is a raised eyebrow, a bit of laughter, and the wildness of a writer who understands his backyard and plays by his own rules." -- Jeff Metcalf - Bloomsbury Review "A gritty debut...Udall articulates the sorrow and humor of his characters' situations so well that their bellowing displays of bravado provide a catharsis." -- Publishers Weekly "Brady Udall must have a wild and lonely heart. Nothing scares him, not emptiness or fallen hopes or silence, not the unsparing and fractured geography out there in the new American West." -- John Dufresne, author of Louisiana Power and L "Anybody who is very funny and writes, with love and a full heart, about goats, Whoppers, plastic deer, Mormons basketball, and nervous system disorders has got what it takes. Brady Udall has got what it takes, and thank goodness it doesn't break his heart to give it away." -- Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman "Individually, Brady Udall's stories are exciting, hilarious, gripping, and usually a bit sad. Collectively, they make a work of great power, one that illuminates the usually darkened corners of the male character." -- Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God

In most of the 11 stories of Udall's gritty debut, narrators reconstruct the genesis of their current woes and seize-or at least seek-control of their lives in moments of decisive, often dramatic action. In "Midnight Raid," a man's late-night visit to his ex-wife's new house a year after their divorce culminates in a confrontation with his former spouse and her new husband in which the narrator's desperate attempt to avenge his suffering and assuage his loss of love is both funny and achingly sad. In the title story (the only one that isn't a first-person narrative), a husband returns home after months hunting in the mountains to find that his wife has abandoned him. Recalling these recent events whips him into a rage and provokes even more outrageous actions. Some stories do falter: the disastrous road trip of "The Opposite of Loneliness" ends with the hodgepodge cast too neatly united; in "Junk Court," a young man's desire to connect himself to the world plays itself out in a forced, disingenuous relationship with a disabled woman. Most of the time, however, Udall articulates the sorrow and humor of his characters' situations so well that their bellowing displays of bravado do provide a catharsis of sorts. Udall clearly understands the truth abut punching walls: it won't make problems go away, but it sometimes feels awfully good. Author tour. (Jan.) FYI: Udall, whose stories have appeared in GQ, the Paris Review, Playboy and Story, is a James Michener Fellow.

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