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Water Dogs

A Novel

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Hardcover published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Lewis Robinson’s critically acclaimed story collection Officer Friendly was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “eleven letter-perfect stories with the keen understanding of human nature readers expect to find in works by veterans like Alice Munro.” Now Robinson has written Water Dogs, a suspenseful, disquieting, and compulsively readable first novel that takes an unforgettable look at the delicate patchwork of a family.

Bennie knows that the details of his life don’t show well. A twenty-seven-year-old college dropout with stalled ambitions, he works at an animal shelter and lives with his bullheaded older brother, Littlefield, in their old family home on Meadow Island, Maine, a house that has fallen into disrepair since their father’s untimely death several years earlier.

When a massive blizzard hits the state one Saturday afternoon, Bennie, Littlefield, and a crew of roughneck war-game enthusiasts decide to play paintball at the local granite quarry. Bennie accidentally falls into a gully, landing in the hospital, and wonders if his life can get any worse. But when one of the players disappears during the storm and Littlefield becomes the main suspect in the disappearance, Bennie realizes that the game might have had much higher stakes. Then Littlefield takes off without a word of explanation, forcing Bennie to seriously question his loyalty to his enigmatic brother. With the guidance of his intrepid girlfriend, Helen, and his twin sister, Gwen, Bennie goes looking for answers, embarking on a journey that brings him closer to a truth he may not want to discover. What he finds will change his family and his life forever.

Written in prose as arresting and spare as the novel’s rural Maine setting, Lewis Robinson’s Water Dogs is a marvel of modern fiction, a book rich in empathy that follows one man’s path through the uncertainties of youth and loss toward self-discovery.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Lewis Robinson’s critically acclaimed story collection Officer Friendly was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “eleven letter-perfect stories with the keen understanding of human nature readers expect to find in works by veterans like Alice Munro.” Now Robinson has written Water Dogs, a suspenseful, disquieting, and compulsively readable first novel that takes an unforgettable look at the delicate patchwork of a family.

Bennie knows that the details of his life don’t show well. A twenty-seven-year-old college dropout with stalled ambitions, he works at an animal shelter and lives with his bullheaded older brother, Littlefield, in their old family home on Meadow Island, Maine, a house that has fallen into disrepair since their father’s untimely death several years earlier.

When a massive blizzard hits the state one Saturday afternoon, Bennie, Littlefield, and a crew of roughneck war-game enthusiasts decide to play paintball at the local granite quarry. Bennie accidentally falls into a gully, landing in the hospital, and wonders if his life can get any worse. But when one of the players disappears during the storm and Littlefield becomes the main suspect in the disappearance, Bennie realizes that the game might have had much higher stakes. Then Littlefield takes off without a word of explanation, forcing Bennie to seriously question his loyalty to his enigmatic brother. With the guidance of his intrepid girlfriend, Helen, and his twin sister, Gwen, Bennie goes looking for answers, embarking on a journey that brings him closer to a truth he may not want to discover. What he finds will change his family and his life forever.

Written in prose as arresting and spare as the novel’s rural Maine setting, Lewis Robinson’s Water Dogs is a marvel of modern fiction, a book rich in empathy that follows one man’s path through the uncertainties of youth and loss toward self-discovery.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Hardcover (256 pages)
Published: January 13, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781400062171
Other books byLewis Robinson
  • Officer Friendly and Other Stories

    Officer Friendly and Other Stories
    The stories in this acclaimed debut all take place in the state of Maine—which quickly comes to stand for the state we're all in when we face the moments that change our lives forever. Two roughneck hockey players are kicked off the team and forced to join the drama club. A young bartender at a party of coastal aristocrats has to deal with the surreal request to put a rich old coot out of his misery. Can a father defend his family if the diver helping to free the tangled propeller of their boat turns out to be a real threat? With humor, a piercing eye, and a sense that danger often lies just around the corner, Robinson gives us a variety of vivid characters, wealthy and poor, delinquent and romantic, while illuminating the mythic, universal implications of so-called ordinary life. These stories are at once classic and modern; taken together, they bring the good news that an important, compassionate new voice in American fiction has arrived.

    Officer Friendly

    Officer Friendly
    and Other Stories
    The stories in this acclaimed debut all take place in the state of Maine—which quickly comes to stand for the state we’re all in when we face the moments that change our lives forever. Two roughneck hockey players are kicked off the team and forced to join the drama club. A young bartender at a party of coastal aristocrats has to deal with the surreal request to put a rich old coot out of his misery. Can a father defend his family if the diver helping to free the tangled propeller of their boat turns out to be a real threat? With humor, a piercing eye, and a sense that danger often lies just around the corner, Robinson gives us a variety of vivid characters, wealthy and poor, delinquent and romantic, while illuminating the mythic, universal implications of so-called ordinary life. These stories are at once classic and modern; taken together, they bring the good news that an important, compassionate new voice in American fiction has arrived.

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