I Thought You Were Dead: A Love Story by Peter Nelson
Warning: there is a dog on the cover of this book. There is a dog in the book. There is a dog living in Paul’s apartment, and she is a special dog. Don’t ask me if the dog dies. I already know you don’t want to read another book in which the dog dies. So don’t ask, because the book isn’t about the dog. The book is about Paul. Just as in Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Susan Wilson’s One Good Dog Nelson has pulled the old bait and switch. There is a dog (and I won’t tell you if he dies, so don’t ask), but the book isn’t about the dog.
Paul is just a regular guy leading a regular life. He’s suffering the pain of a recent divorce, his father has just had a stroke, his girlfriend is dating Stephen in tandem with him (they can be totally honest with each other!), and his over-achieving brother still intimidates him at the tender age of adulthood. I Thought You Were Dead will resonate with the pseudo-alcoholics amongst us. Those of us who don’t drink whiskey for breakfast, but wake up with a dull ache in the head from the “just one drink” we had the night before will see ourselves in Paul. While Paul doesn’t “hit bottom”, never goes to an AA meeting, and doesn’t need rehab, he gains a little self-awareness each time a family secret is revealed, an ex-wife or lover moves on, or he sees an old drinking buddy for who he is. It’s a story of recovery without the stumbling drunk.
PS Because I know you so well, I know you’re dying to ask if the dog dies. I relent! You can ask…but I won’t tell.