A thoroughly enjoyed this book. I live here in NH so reading about a locale that I am familiar with (lived in the area this is written about) meant something. New Hampshire characters at their best - and their worst.
"This book renews my faith in the fictional imagination . . . a human story in which each page offers some new insight into the human mind and heart" -- The Washington Post Book World
In the New Hampshire hills tame dogs turn savage at the start of spring, pursuing winter-weakened deer through thinning snows. It is a senseless and cruel pursuit, one of the many things that anger Howard Elman. Yet Howard Elman also feels pursured. The mill where he worked has been closed down. His wife suffers from hysterical paralysis. His daughters bring him only sorrow. How he works out his simmengly insoluble problems makes for a literary debut that is powerful and compassionate.
"His life had come to this: save a few deer from the jaws of dogs. He was a small man sent to perform a small task."
Howard Elman is a man whose internal landscape is as disordered as his front yard, where native New Hampshire birches mingle with a bullet-riddled washer, abandoned bathroom fixtures, and several junk cars. Howard, anti-hero of this first novel in Ernest Hebert's highly acclaimed Darby series, is a mixture too.
Howard's battle against encroaching change symbolizes the class conflict between indigenous Granite Staters scratching out a living and citified immigrants with "college degrees and big bank accounts." Like the winter-weakened deer threatened by the dogs of March -- the normally docile house pets whose instincts arouse them to chase and kill for sport -- Howard, too, is sorely beset.