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1. Best Words, Best Order, 2nd Edition:
2. The Church of Dead Girls: A Novel
3. Winter's Journey
4. Body Traffic (Poets, Penguin)
5. The Wrestler's Cruel Study
6. Velocities: New and Selected Poems:
7. Saratoga Hexameter: A Charlie
8. Saratoga Trifecta (Charlie Bradshaw
9. Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw
10. Eating Naked: Stories
11. Pallbearers Envying the One Who
12. Boy in the Water
13. Dancer With One Leg
14. The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini
15. Cold Dog Soup
16. Cemetery Nights
17. Common Carnage (Poets, Penguin)
18. Saratoga Strongbox: A Charlie
19. Saratoga Headhunter: A Charlie
20. Saratoga Snapper: A Charlie Bradshaw

1. Best Words, Best Order, 2nd Edition: Essays on Poetry
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 416 Pages (2003-05-02)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$11.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1403961476
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Stephen Dobyns, a poet and teacher, has the rare ability to speak to readers about his art. In this new edition of Best Words, Best Order, Dobyns further explains the mystery of the poet's work. Through essays on memory and metaphor; pacing; the intri-cacies of voice and tone; and thoughtful appreciations of Chekhov, Ritsos, Mandelstam, and Rilke, Dobyns guides readers and writers through poetry's mysterious twilight communiqus. For this new second edition, Dobyns has added two new essays, one dealing with the idea of beauty in poetry and another on the almost mystical way poets connect seemingly dis-parate things in a single poem. Anyone interested in the beauty and intricacy of writing and poetry will find great pleasure in this new edition of an enduring classic.Amazon.com Review
As its title implies, Stephen Dobyns's rigorous collection of essays about poetry celebrates Coleridge's dictum that poetry is the best words in the best order. Dobyns's probing examinations of the elements of poetry--metaphor, pacing, tone--and his study of the evolution of free verse are not for Sunday-sunset versifiers. They are strenuous, meaty, and wholly satisfying fare, intended for serious students of poetry. Dobyns, the author of eight volumes of poetry (and 17 novels), believes, like Baudelaire, that "each poem ... has an optimum number of words [and] an optimum number of pieces of information ... and to go over or under even by one word weakens the whole." Poetry, he says, belongs to the reader, not the writer, and as readers, "at the close of the poem, we must not only feel that our expectations have been met but that our lives have been increased, if only to a small degree." And, if that's not challenge enough for the writer, add to it "that the conclusion of a given piece must appear both inevitable and surprising." The final third of the book comprises chapters on four writers, each of whom represents to Dobyns an ideal in poetry: Rainer Maria Rilke, who Dobyns says worked harder than any other poet to develop and change his work; Osip Mandelstam, an exemplar of moral centeredness; Anton Chekhov, for his sense of personal freedom; and Yannis Ritsos, for his "sense of the mystery that surrounds us." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Resource You Will Return to Often
A deeply informative and wonderful book of essays from one of the most unique voices in American poetry, exploring the evolution of poetry and poetic voice. With shared wisdom from the giants of many ages - Baudelaire, Rilke, Larkin, et al -- these essays go deep into the art of writing, reading and thinking about poetry; i.e. writing with greater freedom, reading with greater confidence. A priceless resource for anyone writing - or aspiring to write - poetry ... Or just wanting to read poetry with greater knowledge. Wonder, weep, laugh, learn.

5-0 out of 5 stars essential essays
These essays are amazing -- the most brilliant, thorough, painstaking essays on poetry I have ever read.Dobyns, who long ago got his MFA from Iowa University, the finest institution for graduate poetry, & now teaches in Boston, knows poetry through & through & wants his readers to as well.In this book he teaches about so many aspects of the highest poetry, how much the words have inside them, & does it in a way perfect for the reader (or for me anyway) to learn from so well.He considers poems throughout in order to illustrate concepts he's writing about, & the book closes with chapters on 3 20th century masters: Ritsos, Rilke, & Mandelstam, & the penultimate chapter about the intricate bestness of a poem of Dobyns's own.I wouldn't consider this a how-to book so much as a keep-this-in-mind-while-you-invent book.Essential essays.

5-0 out of 5 stars thoughts on poetry
This book will surely not serve to make its reader a master poet, but it is a very interesting read for anyone who cares about the high art of poetry.Anyone who's fairly new to poetry & wants to know more sbout it, about some ways to think of the words, really ought to read this book.Beyond that, it's enjoyable anyway to read someoned else's thoughts on poetry, poems, & the act of writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars thoughts on poetry
This book will surely not serve to make its reader a master poet, but it is a very interesting read for anyone who cares about the high art of poetry.Anyone who's fairly new to poetry & wants to know more sbout it, about some ways to think of the words, really ought to read this book.Beyond that, it's enjoyable anyway to read someoned else's thoughts on poetry, poems, & the act of writing.

3-0 out of 5 stars The best intentions
Not sure it will make you a poet. But good intentions don't always lead to the subway. Heck, if he had read his own book, would he have written "Paradise Lost"? As Pierre Menard said (in Spanish), I am competing with Cervantes. The influence of Harold Bloom is nowhere less felt. Put your anxiety aside and spill your drink into the face of the loudmouth begging for it. Is that a prescription for poetry. Maybe not, but until a better one comes along, I'll stick with the best (thank you, Samuel Taylor Coleridge). ... Read more

2. The Church of Dead Girls: A Novel
by Stephen Dobyns
Mass Market Paperback: 432 Pages (2001-05-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$38.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312977360
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
For decades, the faded, rural upstate New York village has lain dormant-until it is startlingly stirred to life when one by one, three young girls vanish...Nightmares are turned into horrifying reality when their corpses are found, brutally murdered, each missing their left hand...Now, as the search for a madman gets underway, suspicion shrouds the quiet streets of Aurelius when its residents soon realize that a monster lives amongst them...But not even prayers can save their loved ones from the rage of a twisted mind who has only just begun his slaughter...AUTHORBIO: STEPHEN DOBYNS is the author of nineteen novels, nine collections of poetry, and the best-selling "Saratoga" mystery series. Briefly a reporter for The Detroit News, Dobyns has been a professor of English, creative writing, and poetry since 1968 and has taught at Syracuse University, the University of Iowa, and Brandeis University, among others. He lives in Boston with his wife and three children.Amazon.com Review
Despite its superficial resemblance to a whodunit, TheChurch of Dead Girls is not a conventional thriller. Don't expectit to be suspenseful. This is a literary horror tale--slow paced,contemplative, meticulous in its descriptions--about a formerly sleepysmall town in which the crucial distinction between public and privatelife is dissolving as suspicion spreads like a toxin. The reader'sguide to this process of corruption is a high school biologyteacher--reserved, somewhat snotty, but a thoughtful man, and reliablein spite of his cynicism. He says, "It is dreadful not to beallowed to have secrets. Years ago I happened to uncover a nest ofbaby moles in the backyard and I watched them writhe miserably in thesunlight. We were like that." Ultimately you realize that thekiller's identity, even the deaths of three girls, are small matterscompared to the collapse of the town's very soul. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (173)

4-0 out of 5 stars Horribly good
Yet another serial-killer shocker, this one set in small-town New York state. But there is a twist (there always is, I know, but this one is good). Dobyns doesn't just entertain his reader with a spine-tickler about a deranged collector of teenage-girl severed hands, his point is to look at the pandemonium the failure to find him wrecks on the community. A voluntary association chillingly called Friends takes matters in its own hands as the police remains stuck and is openly taunted by the killer, creating for a while a sort of mini-totalitarian state in the town. Anyone who is different, who doesn't fit into accepted provincial models, is at risk. And an interesting triangular hunt arises, reaching a quite competently set climax in the last pages of the book.

I find that hinting at a thriller's plot creates spoilers, so let's avoid. If there is a weakness to The Church of Dead Girls, it is its plethora of characters. One gets lost into who is related to whom. But that also fulfils its function: only a vast cast ensures that the reader can be kept guessing until the very end who the killer is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Calling Stephen Dobyns ...
I can only hope you read this page or at least hear about it.I've been a long-time fan; even corresponded with you several years ago.You've probably noticed that the reviews of your poetry are few while fiction reviews, like this one, number in the hundreds.Are you ever going to write fiction again?Is there the slightest chance that Charlie Bradshaw will make more appearances?

1-0 out of 5 stars Failed in the Execution
This book had real possibilities. The title is good, and the premise is good. For me, however, the execution failed. I found the book to be far too long and too laden in the middle. I do not doubt that the attempts to find the girls would be a huge issue in the real world, but in the novel it becomes tedious, and the murders and violence later in the book seem less motivated by a real need within the plot and more like throwing a bone out to keep the readers interested. Unfortunate that the book couldn't live up to the expectations.

5-0 out of 5 stars RIVETING AND GRIPPING...
This is an exquisitely written book. So beautifully is it written that, at times, its lyricism is almost poetic. The richness of the writing is immediately apparent in the prologue. It is the prologue that draws the reader in, so rich is it in its decriptiveness. It is there that the reader first comes upon "The Church of Dead Girls."

The book itself is not so much about the murder of young girls, as it is about the reactions of the people in the small town in which the murders occur. It is their reactions to the murders that are central to this book and conveyed to the reader through a brilliantly nuanced, first person narrative by the town's high school biology teacher.

The people in the town of Aurelius in upstate New York are like those found in many small towns, insular and inherently suspicious of anything different from that which they are used to. Aurelius is representative of a lot of small towns across America. There is really nothing special about this moribund, complacent little town, until young, teenage girls begin disappearing, one by one.

Through the contrivance of first person narration, the author explores the deepest recesses of human nature, as suspicions and accusations unfold and fingerpointing begins. No one in town is exempt from the poison of suspicion. The finger is first pointed to the most likely target, a foreign born college professor whose ideas run counter to that of mainstream middle America. He is a newcomer to the town and is as different from the majority of the townspeople as can be. This hapless individual becomes demonized in the frenzy of suspicion, petty hatreds, and fear with draconian results. Unfortunately, he is only the first.

As the townspeople rally to find the killer amongst them, they devolve, letting impulse, suspicion, and fear grow and dictate their actions. It is as if the murders were the catalyst for the rise in vigilantism, the re-opening of old wounds, and the targeting of innocents in the desperate quest to find the killer. One can see the growth of mob mentality evolve on the pages of this book. It is this phenomenon that the author explores through the book's narrative discourse, beautifully, lyrically, powerfully. It is a narrative that will grip the reader from beginning to end.

While the actual ending of the book is somewhat anti-climactic, it should be emphasized that this book was never really about who committed the murders. It is more about the boogeyman of fear that lives deep inside each and everyone of us and about what can happen when that boogeyman is released. It is that, which is truly frightening, as the boogeyman lives in Everyman in Everytown.

4-0 out of 5 stars Literary novel, not suspense
It's more than coincidence that the jacket (at least on my edition) includes quotes from both Richard Russo and Stephen King.For Stepehn Dobyns' Church of Dead Girls seems to share much with both writers.

This is really not a suspense novel, and if you are expecting a page-turning whodunit dectective story, you're likely to be disappointed. Instead, this is a literary novel, following the effects on a small town of a series of gruesome murders.The story is not really about the murders, it's about how the town copes, or failes to cope with them, its about how different people in the town react and the effects of the suspicion that naturally seems to fall out the outsiders and outcasts.And using the investigation into the murders as backdrops, when nobody in the town is above suspicion, everyone's alibis are verified and backgrounds are checked, leading to susprising findings that further rock the town.

Like (early) Stephen King, the story is about regular people, placed in difficult situations and how they react, turning either heroic or evil, but always believing they are doing what's right.And not only is the story set in small, decaying upstate New York like Richard Russo's great novels, it seems to have much the same leasurly flow, the same large cast of well-drawn characters.

Still, I rate it a very good 4 stars and not a 5 star masterpiece.It's a bit thin for the large number of characters and subplots involved, and consequently, seems to lose focus at times.There really is no main character and the narrator, a local school teacher, turns out not to have a real part in the story or its resolution other than telling the tale.But the faults are relatively minor and as long as you go into this book expecting a literary novel rather than a suspense story, you should enjoy it.
... Read more

3. Winter's Journey
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 80 Pages (2010-07-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556593058
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

“[Dobyns’ poetry] has a somber, eccentric beauty not quite like anything else around these days.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[Dobyns] blends philosophical musings with daft, deft metaphors and a cheeky vernacular.”—Poetry

Poet and best-selling novelist Stephen Dobyns employs everything from Atlantic seascapes to werewolf dreams to explore issues public and private. By turns tough and tender, Dobyns’ plainspoken poems create and reflect a worldview full of possibilities. He contrasts the quotidian with the exalted, always delivered in a precise, familiar voice. Daily walks become meditations on politics, philosophy, literature, and the larger considerations of existence and being.

Stephen Dobyns is the author of twenty-one books of fiction, including the popular Saratoga crime series, twelve books of poetry, and a collection of nonfiction. Dobyns has worked as a reporter for The Detroit News and has taught at the University of Iowa, Sarah Lawrence College, Warren Wilson College, Syracuse University, and Boston University. He lives in Rhode Island.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Winter's Journey
Stephen Dobyns is a colossus who has waded, at the 11th hour of our lives as a nation and a culture-in-progress, into the old joke about Hell, wherein the damned are found squatting obediently and stiffly, with their heads tilted back, up to their ears in ordinary ordure de jour and vomit, emitting a strange, whiny prayer, like the cry of the wind in the eaves--Hell's crap fortunately reaching only halfway up Dobyns' trousers--"Don't make a wave! Don't make a wave!" It's a sort of prayer, whose noise today is everywhere. Though many Dobyns characterizes as comic, pathetic, dishonest and abject, those on their knees in the applicable cloaca, would swear, waving the U.S. flag and wearing defiantly moronic hats, that they are agitating for change, or producing and promoting poetry, which includes the pointedly abstruse, who hope their mysterious flouncings attract notice.

The Tea Party of American poetry, its militant mediocrity, its fear of poetic tooth, sinew and intelligence, preceded by several decades (first at an inexorable snail's pace, then as rapid fiasco)its recurrent, filthy and most recent avatar in lumpen politics. Both versions of dim-witted American triumphalism are what Dobyns' Winter's Journey (cf. Schubert's Winterreise)confronts with the majesty of Laocoon wrestling the serpents of the blatantly vindictive Goddess of Fate, Laocoon tragically wrestling, Dobyns contemplating our mutual doom amid a host of disgusting, but patiently tabulated "imponderables" (Dobyns' word.) A stern loathing drives his verse in "Winter's Journey," steadily illuminating it in the absence of ornament.

Among our national dilemma's imponderables is a distinction Dobyns strives to achieve, but declines to draw, between our "ignorance" and our "stupidity," locating examples of blame, fairly and unfairly, yet in clear-eyed misery, in the transplanted Englishman, Wystan Hugh Auden, whom Dobyns hails as the Great Twitterer, citing his famous fatuity, "poetry makes nothing happen," then again in Harvard University's "top poetry critic," nameless in Dobyns' report, though presumably that Godmother of American Literary Mediocrity, Helen `La Masta-Donna' Vendler, and further in John Ashbury, whom Dobyns dubs "a dead horse" hauled to the top of a mountain, presumably America's meretricious Parnassus.

(If our Parnassus were in West Virginia, it could be said to have suffered mountaintop removal mining, and explain why our born-again Arthur Godfrey inaugurates his daily Writer's Almanac, quaint history capsules and poem readings, with welcome-again-to-mortuary music. The program is funded by the Poetry Foundation, with money Poetry Magazine received, with irony too obvious to have edge, from a Reader's Digest heiress, a concentration of power that has left us with our regrettable "commissars of modern poetry (who) don't/like poems to talk about bloodshed and babies blown/to smithereens..." according to Dobyns.)

At the 11th hour of his life, Wallace Stevens called one of his poems, "Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit," as if calling out to himself, cheering himself on, having already granted an essay to a paradoxical line on the loveliness of a rose by another Englishman, a still earlier W.S., "How with this rage can beauty hold a plea," the essence of the aesthetic dialectic here naturally recursive, entanglement with the world's rage and beauty rather than homely solipsism, reasoned resistance rather than regionalism's humble pie and political abjection, offered as a putrid stew of the nonetheless satanically bland, the poetic soup extolled, Dobyns avers, by our aforementioned poetry commissars,those chefs who like all corporate bureaucrats, assiduously cultivate brands and ruthlessly defend brand-names and brand-status, by deliberately confusing, because of their fear, egotism, ignorance, greed, or mere stupidity, the obtuse and sheep-like hoi polloi, who look up and are not fed, their shepherds maintaining their hegemony as taste-makers by tirelessly advocating the tuneless and vacuous.

Dobyns is almost alone in facing and elaborating our incurable pollution by these "imponderables." The names of the others are written in water, and the rest, as Hamlet says, is silence.

5-0 out of 5 stars Winter Wonderland: A Review of Stephen Dobyns's Winter's Journey
The poet Richard Howard says that "prose proceeds, verse reverses." In Winter's Journey,Stephen Dobyns does both, as this finely crafted collection of poems take the reader into seasons of revelation with wit, rumination, and resonance. From the mourning doves with "their call of patient lamentation," to the speaker who states that "what I mean by work is...the good fortune to forget," each poem is a stained glass window for the reader to view and (re)consider what it means to be a human being in today's world. Winter has rarely been rendered as memorably or mordantly temperate, on or off the page.

--Joey Nicoletti

5-0 out of 5 stars His Best Work in Years
This is an impressive book by a poet whose worked had slipped a little during the past decade.Here, we have unadorned insights on the state of poetry today, art, and life itself. Dobyns has stopped trying to be over the top in his imagery and subject matter and just focus on saying what he really thinks, hard as that is to do.

There is no trickery here, no blather.Just very long prose poems that are surprising light on their feet.One of the better books of poetry I have read by anyone in several years.

... Read more

4. Body Traffic (Poets, Penguin)
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1991-04-01)
list price: US$12.50 -- used & new: US$8.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140586504
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5. The Wrestler's Cruel Study
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 432 Pages (1995-02-17)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393312127
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Wrestling, kidnapping, subplots from the Brothers Grimm, and a young man's search for his missingfiancee are only some of the elements of Stephen Dobyns's dazzling new novel.Fun and puns mingle with daring make-believe. Larger-than-lifecharacters play out the crucial human questions: How do we live? How do we handle our demons? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

1-0 out of 5 stars The writing simply stinks
Not sure what these other reviewers were smokin', but I have never seen a worse example of writing. Literally every 3rd sentence is a rhetorical question -- a child would know better than that!

And if this book is so great then why is it that:

a) no one has heard of it.
b) no one has heard of the author
c) the book is no longer in print
d) it's not available in a huge county-wide library system with 30+ branches!

So why did I pick this up? Because my fellow book club members think that novelty = better; the reverse is almost always true.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm
I've owned this book for about five year and just could never get into it although it seemed like it would be interesting. I finally got into and boy am I glad I did. This is one of the most unique books I have ever read (and I've read A LOT). It's a book about finding out who you are through and in ways you never considered. The characters are highly entertaining, the situations are crazy and highly entertaining and the thought provoking ideas within this book leave you with things to consider long after you've finished reading. It's hard to describe a book like this! I rarely give five star reviews, but this one deserves it. Read this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Probably the Most Unique Book You'll Read This Year...
I was hesistant to start The Wrestler's Cruel Study. Too many books like this have left me disappointed, with an empty feeling when the last page is finally turned. I'm happy to say that this sprawling novel is not one of those. Dobyns manages to fuse literature with entertainment, creating this bizarre amalgam that is part conventional mystery, philosophical pondering, and high humor. Somehow, it actually works. I was even more struck by the dazzling prose, and stark originality in some of the imagery and style Dobyns uses. As one would imagine, this book is now out of print, but I highly reccomend tracking it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars smartly funny
I don't have much to add here, but I thought I should let potential readers know that this was the funniest and one of the most memorable books I read this year. So different from Dobyns' other stuff, but SO rewarding as well. It does help to have some interest in the history of theology/heresy and Grimm's fairytales, not to mention Nietzsche.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gimmick is form pretending to be substance....
"The Wrestler's Cruel Study" was a staff recommendation at a local bookstore here in San Francisco several years ago; and, that brief review, placed on the shelf near copies of the book, was written with such enthusiasm and humor that it charmed me the rest of the day. However, I did not purchase the book as I assumed that the reviewer was the talent and that the review was meant as a kind of comic hyperbole. That was a mistake. After running across the book again at another store, I finally bought it. Now, some years later and after a second reading, I think I can say that it ranks among my very favorites.

As the book jacket suggests, we begin by observing an apartment complex where we witness two gorillas scale the outside wall to gain entry. Once inside, they kidnap a young woman wearing only her nightgown and steal her away. Her fiancé, a professional wrestler, is warned against soliciting the help of the police in her recovery; and he is given no motive for the kidnapping or asked for a ransom of any kind. In an effort to discover her whereabouts and gain her safe return, the wrestler embarks on a search that, he discovers, will do more to unravel the mystery of who he is than it will to find the one he loves.

Here is a book that manages to be, among other things: a study in identity and the perception of the self; a nightmare; a story of redemption; absurdist theater designed to illustrate philosophical argument; and a big-dicked perversion of Nietzschean philosophy, albeit a charming and gravely humorous one.

In the book Mr. Dobyns makes much of "gimmick." Put another way, he makes much of the masks that we wear, focusing on how they serve us, but more importantly, how they do us disservice. In illustrating the many ways that it is possible for one to bandage his or her wounds, and wear layer upon layer of these dressings or masks, he has created fully-realized characters with all manner of human strength and frailty. To have done so without judgment is, to my mind, a huge achievement.

Each of the characters that populate this wild and enormously entertaining novel is developed with the skill of one who really seems to understand what it means to be human. Each of them has much to learn about life, their connections with others and, perhaps most importantly, with themselves.

As lucky readers, this all serves to do the same for us. It asks rather big questions and gives no simple answers. Again, this is quite a feat for a fiction. We are asked, "When we look in a mirror, do we see ourselves or a committee?" I submit that if we look closely enough, this book, like any good looking glass, might just give us a glimpse of who we are. ... Read more

6. Velocities: New and Selected Poems: 1966-1992 (Poets, Penguin)
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 320 Pages (1994-01-11)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$5.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140586512
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A collection of poetry by the author of Concurring Beasts and Black Dog, Red Dog draws from the poet's eight published volumes and includes several new poems. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Witty, Heartfelt, and Profane--All the Same Time
I bought this book on a whim after a fellow contemporary poet recommended "Bowlers Anonymous" and I can honestly say that Dobyns' "Velocities" ranks as one of my all time favorite books!His poems are wildly creative, wholly original, and taut with fierce imagery.They are also "accessible" while still being intellectually sharp.

What I especially like is how many of his poems--like "To Pull Into Oneself as Into a Locked Room", "Topless", and the before-mentioned "Bowlers Anonymous"--challenge the reader's expectations by elegantly shifting from the profane to the heart-wrenching with their startlingly tender treatments of their very human, very fallible characters.

I just began teaching this book in my college creative writing class and my students are really getting into it!In my opinion, Dobyns is one of the very best contemporary American poets--a man of sharp intellect, great heart, and inspiring wit.As cheesy as this sounds, he is one of those rare authors who makes me want to be a better writer!

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Favorite
I stumbled across Stephen Dobyns on the internet and was blown away by his poem "How to Like it." On a whim, I bought this big volume of his poetry and found it amazing from start to finish. Dobyns is as approachable and funny as any other poet I've ever read, and yet you always leave his poems with something bigger than you might have expected.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Key Volume in Your Deserted Island Library
What?!? Five reviews on the best, most accesible, neither over-brainy nor dumbed-down poetry being written in America?!?What's that about?No.Really.My first Dobyns was "How to Like It."I've read it aloud in several poetry readings since then.The audience always has my reaction: brainy, funny, classical subject, modern angle -- great poem!Since then, I've found the occasional Dobyns poem in anthologies, or heard others read him and put a big mental red-check by his name.I even was in the audience at an open mike once with the sole intention of listening, and was handed a Dobyns poem and told it was imperative that I read it.As a poet, this is what I want to be; like navigating by the North Star, I'm fairly positive I'll never get there.If you read poetry, you should be reading Dobyns.Start with the poems fromhis book, Cemetery Nights.From there, your poetry-reading life is pretty well planned out (as is that library you're taking with you to that deserted island).

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Poetry Volume I Own
The works these selections are drawn from are out of print. That is a terrible shame, because this collection is stellar. The poems are infused with wisdom, wit, and life. If this were a just world, Dobyns would be heralded as a genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life's Recidivists
Stephen Dobyns isone of my favorite living poets - an eclectic bunch including Dunn, Olds, Ai, Kenney and Lux. This book was the one that introduced me to his work and it is absolutely the best place for you to do the same; all the more so since he just has released the dreadfully lightweight "Porcupine Kisses." Once I decided to write a one-star review of that book, I felt it only proper to post this 5-star counterpoint first. This book is a great place to experience the range and power of his work.

Poetry is so darn hard to review. At its best it lodges in and lights up neuronal nooks and crannies that were invisibly personal but become, somehow, unexpectedly universal. Very mysterious.

Dobyns manages to capture that 'universality' in his poetry in a manner that repeatedly surprises. Lots of poetry achieves this by rooting itself in the well-known. Dobyns takes a contrary tack. The poetry in this book often seems to concern people or places that you'd hardly expect to have the slightest interest in - certainly not at the level of seemingly narrow focus that he brings to his view of the world. Would you seek out depictions of street scenes in Santiago? on the work of the artist Balthus? the last breaths of a bull in the ring? The very different-ness of these points of view and odd scenarios accentuates the twang of recognition in your heartstring when it is plucked.

This poetry has a distinctive feel to it - gritty and detailed, but languorous in pace. It is an unusual sort of languor, though. It isn't landscaped pastoral; on the contrary the poetry is vigorously 'peopled.'It isn't sleepy, either, a sense of time and movement pervades; but the sense of motion is often an orbital one. Time seems to win, either through timelessness or a seemingly inevitable cycling - recidivists, returning to serve their life sentences.

I'd encourage you to read the "look inside" pages posted here on Amazon to get a flavor of this (although none of the four poems included are among my favorites). The one is not a poem about a street scene in Santiago - it's 'about' the six garbagemen, the chocolate cake, the two matrons and the black dog- and somehow it's about how we all stagger through our days; how pleasures leak into them through unexpected fissures.

Others have commented that Dobyns poetry has a "masculine" feel to it and I will, guardedly, agree - although I can't quite put my finger on the "how" of that bit. It is visceral poetry, for sure, (sometimes literally so as when the body's organs are given voice in selections from "Body Traffic") and it celebrates lusts as much as loss - even the losses that are sown by the lust. Although dark and broody at times, it also relishes the small triumphs against the relentless press of our inadequacies. If its "men's poetry", its certainly not a youth's voice. But it grazes up against the "why" of facing another day, even the why of being a jerk, a fool, a recidivist, with an oddly under-emotional shrug that might seem essentially masculine.

As a collection of poems from seven or eight prior books, "Velocities" swings through a variety of poetic forms and tones. It is a comprehensive representation of the best work of a major American poet. ... Read more

7. Saratoga Hexameter: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 256 Pages (1991-07-01)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$81.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140116915
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Saratoga Mystery
This is one of the better books in the Charlie Bradshaw series, although Dobyns does briefly get a little wordy and off the track at times. Charlie solves three mysteries in this one and they all come to satisfying conclusions. There's enough of the Saratoga locales included here to keep those familiar with the area interested. ... Read more

8. Saratoga Trifecta (Charlie Bradshaw Mystery)
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 544 Pages (1995-07-01)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$29.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140251960
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Editorial Review

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This volume collects together three Charlie Bradshaw mysteries: "Saratoga Longshot", "Saratoga Swimmer" and "Saratoga Headhunter". ... Read more

9. Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 224 Pages (1995-07-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$1.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140247084
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Days after a wealthy horse owner expresses fear that his wife is trying to kill him, the man dies in what appears to be an accident, and private investigator Charlie Bradshaw and his sidekick Victor search for the truth. Reprint. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Wisecracking Mystery
We see the world through the eyes of Vic Plotz, a fifty-something, wisecracking P.I. with an appreciation for older women.Vic and his boss Charlie get caught up in the intrigue of a series of murders at Battlefield Farms near Saratoga.Vic tracks down clues and plots his own intrigues against a Harley-riding tenant and his granddaughter who's threatening to ruin his life with a visit.The list of suspects gets shorter and shorter, as they get killed off one by one, and Charlie and Vic wrap it up just in time to save the last victim.Though the mystery wasn't top drawer, the book was written in an engaging, amusing style.Vic's observations and machinations make the whole thing worthwhile as they easily upstage the main story.I'd pick up another Dobyns novel if I found one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
A funny and irreverent book. Just the way I like 'em.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not up to par
I am currently reading this book and am not finding it nearly as entertaining as Mr. Dobyns' previous Charlie Bradshaw mysteries.This, I believe, is because the roles of Charlie and Victor ("Vic, call me Vic") have been reversed. Somehow, having Victor the main character and Charlie in the background doesn't work as well, at least for me. ... Read more

10. Eating Naked: Stories
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 288 Pages (2001-07-06)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$21.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312278292
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In his first collection of stories, Stephen Dobyns, one of our most accomplishedwriters, examines the lives of men and women challenged by their own uncontrollable, illogical natures: poets with free floating guilt, spouses with unacceptable sexual compulsions, farmers with midlife crises, gas men with erratic timetables. Marriages unravel, well-laid plans dissolve, and placid lives are turned upside down in this sharp, funny, and profound collection of short fiction.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Some of the best short fiction I've ever read
I'm not usually a fan of short stories, but if more writers took Dobyns's lead, short stories would be a lot more popular.Too often, short stories are a cheap way to skim on true character development, or w way to pull flashy tricks and twists, and collections are usually uneven, with only a few stand-outs among the filler.Dobyns has written a collection of stories that breaks the bar for short story collections.

The challenge of reviewing this collection lies in summarizing his delightfully bizarre creations without cheapening them.Dobyns creates a small world with each tale and unravels the lives of his characters as they achieve a major turning point.Each story covers an entire person's life, their entire backstory, but the present action focuses on one turning point or strange occurrence.

The collection opens with the tale of the unfortunate death of the poet Jason W. Plover, who was killed by a movie-star pig which fell out of the sky during a shoot and crushed Plover in Harvard Square.Unfortunately, the late Plover once composed a poem entitled "The Pig and I," and his bizarre death catapults him into frenzied superstardom, must to this discomfort of his widow Harriet.

How can Dobyns follow this story?With the title story about two disaffected persons brought together by a roadkill deer for an unforgettable night, and with my personal favorite, the life of mobile home owner Lilly Hendricks and her uncomfortable reunion with the five children she had given up for adoption over her lifetime.Other stories focus on the strained marital relations of a Chaucer professor, or on the intense friendship between two construction workers (and the dollhouse one builds as a tribute to the other), or a man dating a married woman and becoming obsessed with meeting her cuckolded husband and exposing the wife's indiscretions.In the chilling story Dead Men Don't Need Safe Sex, an abandoned ex-husband maneuvers a way to interview his former wife about the reasons she left him.

This is an unforgettable collection of well-crafted stories.Don't miss it!

1-0 out of 5 stars self-important windbag hack
I had high hopes based on the jacket and blurbs on the back.Dobyns writes like a talented high-school student in love with his own ideas.He has no feel for the English language, his characters are flat and ridiculous, and he hits you in the face with his stupid ideas.I hate this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars I PICKED THIS UP AT A LIBRARY SALE ...
and boy was it a bargain. I found these stories to be mesmerizing and I barreled through them in just a few days. One of the other reviewers mentioned that the themes of these stories are similar, but I still was riveted by the characters, their unusual situations and what they chose to do in them. Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book of short stories, same themes, however
I'm a fan of the short story, and I'm always interested in finding new books of short story collections.Dobyns' title of this collection grabbed my attention immediately (Eating Naked), and hence, I had to buy it.

The first few stories I read in Stephen Dobyns', Eating Naked, I was really impressed.The stories flowed nicely, the characters were interesting, and the stories made you think.

Then, I realized, Dobyns has a fascination on marriages and/or relationships that are falling apart, cheating, and dreams of murdering a loved one (or used to be loved one).Having one or two or even three stories like this in a collection is fine, but having almost all of them repeating the same pattern, with just the characters and circumstances changing all the time, gets slightly tiring.I even had to check the author's bio to see if it said whether he was married or not because his characters seem so bitter about their marriages (possibly a reflection on his life?).

I was most impressed with the last story in the collection, mostly because it strayed a bit away from the theme of marriage as a wreckage in life, and centered on younger people.While the theme of ruined relationships was still there, it was tucked away a bit more than the others.

All in all, I did enjoy Dobyns as a writer, and would like to read some of his longer fiction.If you can get past all the stories being somewhat similar in nature, then Eating Naked is a great find.

5-0 out of 5 stars Soul searching, mesmerizing, and never ceasing to surprise
Stephen Dobyns has a wonderful talent for making light-hearted, almost comic narratives work in conveying a deeper message to his readers. Eating Naked is a wonderful collection of short stories that will never stop amazing you with thier simply written, yet highly intriguing, not to mention- very original- plots. It is not simply a book of stories, but a book on some very interesting modern day/pop culture philosphies. You won't regret reading it, it can really inspire. And it's good reading material for those long but not too long bus rides. ... Read more

11. Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides (Poets, Penguin)
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1999-10-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$6.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001G8WWNS
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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With his signature wit and insight, award-winning poet Stephen Dobyns probes the secrets of the heart

Consider the mysteries of the heart, that blood-pumping organ and, in Stephen Dobyns' latest collection of poems, the hapless romantic of our interior landscape. "The Himalayas Within Him" finds Heart worrying about the sound of his own heartbeat, wondering why it doesn't "blare like a quartet of trombones" as it reflects his "ardent complexity."In "Goodbye to the Hands That Have Touched Him" Heart, after suffering many sleepless nights, decides "that love exists at the root of his problems. Without love his path would be as smooth as a plate of glass and he'd sleep like a kitten." Dividing the Heart poems is the long "Oh, Immobility, Death's Vast Associate," a jazzy disquisition on human isolation and inaction in the midst of a planet full of people feeling similarly. Throughout Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides Dobyns has painstakingly sculpted straightforward language into a distinct sound, creating an unforgettable collection of poems that offers readers unexpected revelations about the complexities of the heart.

. . . Why is Heart alone in the chest?
Because hope is an aspect of the single condition
and without hope, why move our feet? To see himself
as purely a fragment: such is Heart's obligation.
Let's quickly depart before we learn what happens.
Sometimes a car stops. Sometimes there is nothing.

--from "Like a Revolving Door" ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun.
Stephen Dobyns, Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides (Penguin, 1999)

What a great name for a book. Ain't it? It's what drew me to Dobyns' tenth book of poetry. Once I cracked the cover, his long-limbed, loose-jointed style kept me going:

"Heart considers the nature of fairness--
how some folks get pearls, others pebbles.
A rock falls out of the sky, who it smacks
is anyone's guess--butcher, crook, or priest.
Heart is struck by the unfairness of fairness.
What does it mean to deserve something?"
("Great Job")

The book is separated into three sections. The first and third are the Heart poems, a series of pieces (all in this style, with no stanza breaks, each running about a page and a half) about a character called Heart and his views on life. The middle section, "Oh Immobility, Death's Vast Associate", is one much longer piece in the same style. It doesn't hold up quite as well, for as you can tell from the excerpt above, these poems do almost as much telling as showing, and the longer the piece gets, the greater the chance it will become overwhelmed with its own exposition. The shorter poems, however, often strike the perfect balance. There is a good deal of fun to be had here, and, especially as Heart grows older in the later poems, a good deal of wisdom as well. Fun stuff, this. *** ½

3-0 out of 5 stars a recording of love on repeat
dobyns writes about heart, his search for love and his daily musings on various topics. i'm not a rabid fan of any of the collection, but there are some nice lines here and there.

it's safe to say that heart is a simpleton, not unlike the organ itself, he's not smart like brain, as he confesses in one poem, he's preoccupied by acquiring love, seldom thinking of the possible repercussions: he covers his ceiling with mistletoe in "what good is love unless it's aggressive?"; he visits a beach where he forgoes both swimming and napping "lest he miss some beauty adjust a strap or hitch her halter up" in "the dark and turbulent sea"; he wonders, in "lumberjack shirts and motorcycle boots", if he should beef up in order to attract more suitors; in "flawed language: thought's shadow" he constructs an elaborate metallic valentine, weighing ten pounds, at a blacksmith shop after growing tired of his five-a-day regimen of writing letters of devotion to women, which has thus proved futile. however, he remains, always, at a distance from those that he pursues, even when he visits a whorehouse he prefers to discuss love rather than make it.

throughout the collection, heart's own naivete repeatedly gets the best of him. in "one good turn deserves another", after offering to lug his friends' burdens so they can enjoy a few hours without impediments he's still circling the track months later. another poem finds him encouraging passersby with "great job", after wondering about the discrepancies in alloted fairness; needless to say, they look at him as if he were crazy. in "adrift in the leafy tranquility" heart opens his home to a dragon but soon wishes he were alone when the dragon keeps him up all night with stories about his life.

the poems are all from about a page to a page and a half in length, except for the rambling and utterly hopeless twenty-page meditation on human laziness (and motion) "oh, immobility, death's vast associate" which divides the heart poems into two sections. the pieces are easily digested, but not entirely satisfying -- there's always something to dislike, particularly his overuse of colloquialisms, such as "up the wazoo" and "prick", which only work occasionally (and possibly only in the first line of a poem, as is the case with "after heart's pal frank gets mushed in a car wreck" in "god's poorer particle, i.e., the devil" (other poems begin with a friend getting "nixed by a stroke" and with a lover's breast being "lopped off", so maybe i can only appreciate when death or injury are treated indifferently)). very few of the poems can be read without wincing, which is odd, not to mention unacceptable, though most provide something (insight, a playful line) to balance the scales.

an average work, more interesting for its theme as a whole than any of its parts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's wonderful poetry
Few books of poetry these days have such a sense of unity as this.Heart is a character that you follow from poem to poem as you might get caught up in the plot of a novel.Each poem stands on its own, too, with engagingand exciting language and a tone which ranges from wickedly funny totouchingly melancholy--sometimes being both at the same time.StephenDobyns is one of the best American poets writing today, and here he givesus an incredibly rewarding collection--the kind that you want to lockyourself in your room with and chew on for hours.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sly, Wise, Hilarious:Dobyns at his utter best
I've been a Dobyns-follower for years.His CEMETERY NIGHTS is one of the books that mark a high point in my reading life.And I read a lot.PALLBEARERS is Dobyns to the nth degree -- sly, wise, hilarious.Dobynsand Heart are our modern Berryman and Henry. The man is a genius.If thisbook doesn't win every major poetry book award, there's something wrongwith the system... ... Read more

12. Boy in the Water
by Stephen Dobyns
Hardcover: 406 Pages (1999-06-15)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$2.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000IOETH8
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Bishop's Hill Academy in frigid northern New Hampshire is at best a second-rate boarding school for troubled students, crumbling under the weight of ineffective teachers and an apathetic staff.At worst, it's the center of a dangerous conspiracy, fueled by greed and malice, that will ultimately escalate into unspeakable tragedy...Dr. Jim Hawthorne has taken the job as headmaster at Bishop's Hill, and no one can believe that a prominent psychologist would waste his time on the failing institution.Hawthorne has his reasons-and most of them involve escaping the pain of his wife and daughter's horrific deaths and trying to right the wrongs of his past.But someone is taunting Hawthorne, pulling pranks that become more and more ominous, trying to drive him out-or drive him crazy.And when a student is killed, found floating in the pool with a kitten balancing frantically on his back, the flood gates are open for a murderer who will stop at nothing to quell his own dark demons with human carnage...AUTHORBIO: STEPHEN DOBYNS has written nineteennovels, including the highly acclaimed The Church of the Dead Girls and the bestselling Saratoga mystery series.He has also written nine works of poetry, a book of essays, and many short stories, for which he was won several awards, including the Pushcart Prize.Formerly a reporter for the Detroit News and a teacher at the University of New Hampshire, Boston University, Brandeis, and the University of Iowa, he lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.Amazon.com Review
Although not as complex or as haunting as his 1997 novel Church of Dead Girls,Stephen Dobyns has produced a first-rate psychological thriller withBoy in the Water.

Bishop's Hill Academy in rural New Hampshire is a school in crisis. Once ahighly regarded preparatory school for the rich and elite, it is now adumping ground for troubled teens. The teachers are unqualified,unenthusiastic, and spend more time hitting the students than educatingthem. A new headmaster, JimHawthorne, enters the chaotic scene, but is immediately outcast from the tight-knitfaculty. Hawthorne is obsessed with the idea of turning the schoolaround--and we soon find out why. His family died in a firepurportedly set by a disturbed teenager back in San Diego. Mentally andphysically scarred, Hawthorne sees Bishop's Hill as an opportunity to getback to "physical reality," and save some adolescent psyches. But it is hisown mental state that is soon put to the test as he becomes the nucleus ofa hate campaign and is forced to relive the terrible memories of thefire.

It seems that everyone in the school has a secret to hide--from the cookFrank LeBrun who enjoys placing sharp tacks in his recipes to ChipCampbell, a history teacher who has taken one too many liberties with theschool's funds.

Dobyns paints a foreboding landscape of dilapidated buildings and neglectedchildren--a place where a 15-year-old girl plots to kill her father, aplace where teachers abuse students, a place where a young boy is founddead in a swimming pool. As a snowstorm cuts off the isolated community,the exiled headmaster is forced into a final showdown with the school'somnipotent evil.

Boy in the Water is an entertaining but ultimately disturbing read.--Naomi Gesinger ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars very well written. keep you on the toe
i like the ending and the characters. i wont say much to kill the suspense. it is a good book. i recommend it

3-0 out of 5 stars An Average Thriller
Set in rural New Hampshire, Boy In The Water centers around Jim Hawthorne, a respected psychologist with a tragic past, and his attempt to save Bishop's Hill, a rundown private school filled with troubled kids and an even more troubling faculty and staff.The result of Hawthorne's hard work and effort turns out to be murder, mystery, and frustration.Personally, I found the pace of the book to be a little slow, and it took me about 100 pages to really get involved with the characters and the story. By the middle of the book, however, I found myself emotionally drawn into the drama and curious about how the story would end.The outcome, while not bad, was somewhat predictible, and I didn't encounter any sections of the book that I thought were particularly edgy, creepy, or frightening.My biggest complaint was with the epilogue.It concentrated more on one of the minor characters in the story and left you hanging about what happens with several of the main characters.Overall, this was not a bad book, but not one of my favorites either.

5-0 out of 5 stars A thriller that leaves the rest of the thrillers in the waiting room
Dobyns manages to write a thriller that engages the reader in ways that put most thrillers to shame. From the first moment you see the villain, you know he's bad news but he isn't the only villain and the fact that he's working for someone else makes the whole thing that much more sinister. The teacher is virtuous and he's a little flat, but you still worry about him. Dobyns manages to make the commonplace strange and the strange overly sinister.

Great prose. Intriguing story and well rounded characters make for some very enjoyable reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Thriller
It doesn't quite come up to "The Church of Dead Girls," but Stephen Dobyns has a knack for giving us characterization, description and plot. There's plenty of all three in this novel.

Jim Hawthorne, a famed psychologist who blames himself for the deaths of his wife and daughter in a fire started by an obsessed student, takes the job of headmaster at a failing New England preparatory school that has become the dumping ground for troubled kids. Hawthorne hopes to save the school and students as a redemption for his past failure.

The job isn't made easy when his efforts are met with suspicion and a campaign to undermine his success. The serene, ivy-clad campus conceals a world of secrets, corruption and murderous plots. In addition to Hawthorne, there are some equally intriguing characters including a 15-year-old student who previously was a stripper, a fewdevious staff members, a cook with a penchant for dirty stories and an old-time Boston cop I felt should have been given more space.

1-0 out of 5 stars Floater
I wonder why people who really want to write screenplays try to disguise them as novels."Boy in the Water" is a "novel" to be read by airplane passengers who have already seen the emasculated in-flight entertainment.

I was attracted to Dobyns by the NEW YORK TIMES review blurb on his novel "The Wrestler's Cruel Study."The reviewer commented that the book "stirs together Nietzschean philosophy, professional wrestling, fairy-tale scenarios and Gnostic speculation to produce what is at once a darkly humorous and gravely unsettling work of imagination."At the same time, I ordered "Boy in the Water," and it arrived first.Now I am very apprehensive about reading "The Wrestler's Cruel Study," because "Boy in the Water" stirs together many different varieties of schlock to produce one of the most moronic things I have ever read.If the NYT review is at all accurate, perhaps Mr. Dobyns decided sometime in the 1990s to abandon art for garbage.He does, after all, have three children to send to college.

Let me turn from general commentary to some specific remarks on the "plot," such as it is.Dobyns depends on the stupidity of his readers.(Of course, the fact that the albino in "The Da Vinci Code" could fight off the French police and carry his dying mentor to the hospital with no further police intervention counts heavily on reader stupidity, and that book sold millions.Maybe stupidity is a trend?)Much of the "Boy in the Water" plot is based on the one bad guy (#1) paying another bad guy (#2) to commit a heinous act.Now it stands to reason that, by paying #2 to do the deed, #1 would be interested in staying as far away from #2 and the scene of the crime as possible and in keeping his relationship to #1 tenuous at best.Yet, in advance of a raging snowstorm, #21 comes to a town near the scene of the crime and walks out in public with #2, AND, in the middle of the raging snowstorm, he subsequently rides out to the actual scene of the crime to deliver the rest of the money to #2.In fact, #2 even confides to another character that he was going to be able to use #1's SUV as a getaway car.Where's the logic here?It doesn't exist.Unless you're stupid.

Another amazon.com reviewer commented on Mr. Dobyns' "Church of Dead Girls," and his or her objections can be overlaid almost exactly on "Boy in the Water."This sorry excuse for a novel, whose title does not even resonate in the rest of the book, is just another in a long list of examples of screenwriting gone bad or bad screenwriting gone worse.Still, Mr. Dobyns' children should be able to go to the universities of their choice.Just hope that they don't enroll in his creative writing classes.
... Read more

13. Dancer With One Leg
by Stephen Dobyns
Mass Market Paperback: 229 Pages (1984-07)
list price: US$3.50 -- used & new: US$85.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553241869
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars Stephen Got Better
I love Stephen Dobyns' later work.Due to my love of his recent novels, I went looking for his earlier work/books.He's one of those writers who became better with age especially with his stand alone books--not his series which I also ordered.

I love his later work but found the series and early work disappointing. ... Read more

14. The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 272 Pages (1996-05-30)

Isbn: 0140235795
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Three boy-hood friends gather at the home of Dr. Pacheco for a semi-annual dinner party, during the course of which they discover the secrets of the house, and Pacheco's obsessive imprisonment of the beautiful and enigmatic Senora Puccini, as well as secrets about their own compulsions. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars One Dark Evening.....
This is a very disturbing book, reveiling the darkness, and evil of the human animal. It is tragic in so many ways that one comes away with the feeling that humankind lives in a cesspool of selfishness, with no chance of redemption or any need for it. The world is as it is, violent and ugly. Pacheo, a surgeon and the central character, is as despicable and amoral character as there has ever been, but he bluntly makes no apologies for what he is or what he has done. He is the narcissistic sociopath extraordinaire, and as this book unravels we see that this surgeon, who publicly is respected, is actually very much more sinister.The story is gripping, and reaches a steadily rising crescendo until the last page. A book worth the read, but get ready for a good dose of human ugliness.

5-0 out of 5 stars enthralling
For a book that covers the events of one single night (and some of the next day) this book doesn't drag at all.Sometimes when authors try to keep the entirety of a novel to one day or one night, it seems like they take forever at it.This is really a fine story, with great twists.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent and disturbing
Dobyns is an author I met first as a poet (Cemetery Nights); then I discover he wrote excellent novels and formula mysteries.This book is definately literature not formula mystery.

The story is set in a LatinAmerican city during an uprising.A group of men who've known each otherfor years meet for a dinner party.The host's relationship with hishousekeeper, the Senora Puccini of the title, is dominating and cruel.Inthe course of the evening his degradation of her becomes more and morecruel as more of the story behind the relationship becomes known - a storyof passion, jealousy, love and fidelity.The final revelations are bothsurprising and believable.

This is an excellent book - a story told sowell that you want to read it over and over - a story so disturbing that isforces you to consider man's cruelity to man. ... Read more

15. Cold Dog Soup
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 240 Pages (1991-06-01)
list price: US$8.95
Isbn: 0140121552
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars I Lapped It Up.
Cold Dog Soup has you scratching your head and asking a lot of questions about Latchmer the protagonist fifty pages in. You wonder why he's doing all these ludicrous things until Miss Mitchell explains it all near the end: He's stupid.

It starts off with him meeting a girl at the gym and arranging a dinner date with her mother at their New York City apartment. That's when things get really weird as his date turns out to be something of a pervert and her mother displays an irrational attachment to Jasper, her aged red dog who takes on an annoying fixation with Latchmer's crotch. When Jasper dies that night of a heart attack, the dismayed women somehow talk Latchmer into driving out to New Jersey to bury it. That's when things get weirder and weirder when Latchmer and his new Hatian cabbie friend Jean Claude opt to spend the night trying to sell the dead dog to various shady characters instead.

The book is rich and ripe with symbolism, which I normally love to pick at and figure out. Jean Claude alone peppers the pages with fascinatingly spiritual worldviews, sometimes hilariously so. Some of the methodical sub-plot pieces range from paranoid dragon motifs to the cryptic uses of cold, hard hands. Others are more easily explained like Latchmer's penchant for denying self-guilt. But throughout this freaky piece, there are two very strong underlying meanings that hit home every time.

1. The idea that your actions always have an affect on someone somewhere trashes the concept of live and let live. When Latchmer sees that his roommate enjoys a particular sexual fetish, he figures "Whatever...he's not hurting anyone." But author Bolyns would beg to differ. "Whatever" explains away nothing as your choices are causes that will have effects.

2. An even stronger point that manages to resurface time and again is how one can live an entire life being adored by special people, only to be rejected, tossed away, even terribly humiliated in death. When that one came to me, I felt a great deal of pity for the offended characters.

There is one thing about the book that reflects harshly on the author's character though. He sometimes displays a woeful ignorance that borders the line of racism. Far too often is he preoccupied with the blackness of the skin of African American characters, almost as if black people haven't been around for 500 years.

On page 47, he tells us that Latchmer misunderstood Jean Claude's name and thought it was something african like "Sambo." Why he would choose to use that name has racist foundations that are completely ridiculous. Wikipedia states: "Sambo is a racial term for a person with mixed Amerindian and African heritage in the Caribbean, also for a black person in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is considered a racial slur."

It is also really strange to read the term "Chinaman" being sprinkled haphazardly into the text like it's not offensive. Granted, at the time of publication, it may have been normal to call little people "midgets" before it was deemed politically incorrect (which he also has no probile using.) I still hear the uninformed call black people "colored," so it doesn't surprise me. But I'm not sure "chinaman" was ever appreciated by the Chinese.

On page 56, the author states that the doctors made noises like "wild indians," insinuating that, as the English definition of "wild" means "savage," that Native Americans are a subhuman, even animalistic race. None of this is even dialog - it's text. I'm really thinking the author is wholly stupid to the sensitivities of the world as a whole. It really did surprise me how such a fool could write so well.

I really really liked this book and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Wisdom from a dead dog
The Book-on-Tape version is read by Jonathan Marosz. Mr. Marosz has a voice to cheapen any book, but Cold Dog Soup is still a winner. It's written in real time and follows the progress of a young man named Latchmer as he struggles through a night in New York City in the company of a dead dog, a crazed cab driver and his unpleasant childhood memories. It's laugh out loud funny and not for the easily offended

5-0 out of 5 stars YOU CAN LIVE THIS BOOK
A completly unique book. as I read this book it became almost unbearable because you just want it to end so you will find out what happens.The story is great and the humor keeps you going, but it is not until you finish the book and tell friends IN DETAIL the story that you realize the genius of the book.

You become the main character and your friends become the people in the book. I never have experienced this before.you can tell the DETAILED story over and over to whoever you want and watch what happens. TRULY AMAZING

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Funny, Very Strange!
I have a twisted sense of humor, but I found this book hilarious!I listened to the tape in the car, and periodically had to glance around to be sure that no one saw me laughing out loud, while driving alone!

2-0 out of 5 stars Different from other Dobyns books
To somebody who's read much Stephen Dobyns, that doesn't convey much information; aside from his Saratoga series, no two of Stephen Dobyns' novels are much alike.I've really liked (4 or 5 stars) the other ones I've read (a Boat off the Coast, the Wrestler's Cruel Study, the Church of Dead Girls, Boy in the Water), but this one didn't do much for me.It's not a mystery; it's funny in parts, but it's not really a comedy.There's probably something that Dobyns was trying to say in it, but if there was, I completely missed it, and I wasn't even entertained very much while missing the point.This is the story of a man who goes around New York City one night trying to get rid of the body of a dead dog.These adventures are interspersed by his memories of growing up, and dog stories in bad taste, which something compels him to tell everybody he meets, offending them.From the other reviews on this site, some people clearly love this book, but it's not for everybody. ... Read more

16. Cemetery Nights
by Stephen Dobyns
 Hardcover: 99 Pages (1987-01-21)
list price: US$18.95
Isbn: 0670814849
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Mature Work
This collection of poems that give you the feel of very short short stories from time to time, is a remarkable, respectable piece of work. Stephen Dobyns who's maybe known for his Saratoga crime series and recent successes like "Boy In The Water" or "The Church Of Dead Girls" is two things at one time: a writer of mystery and crime stories ... and a poet. The beautiful, astounding way of Dobyns is how he interconnects those two styles, that give his words not only imaginary power when it comes to good fiction but also deep insight and a very dark touch that makes the hairs on the back of your neck step up and cold water running down your back while the somkey winds of apocalypse and doom caress your face. Cemetery Nights is the evidence for everybody that SD has become a master of these two styles, his vivid imagination and that dark feel his work produces. It is a mature work, a comforting refuge for those of you who seek literary pleasure.

His words are powerful, like ice-cold fingers prying gripholds into your memory so that they will remain there for ever, verbal fingerprints engraved in your mind, like letters hatched in the stone of a grave ... on a gloomey cemetery night.Stroll through hidden paths of darkness, desire, longing, death as well as life and maybe, if the moon shines just right and there are no gray clouds torn in front of the night's only light, you see a reflection of yourself in the smooth surface of a gravestone ... but beware of the dead, they don't pass away erverytime, because in death everything is contrary to life - so death means life and life is death.

An Advice: because this book is unavailable here that does positively not mean that there is no way to lay your hands on it. This book is a literary milestone, something everybody who treasures reading has to leaf through at least once.

5-0 out of 5 stars quite an amazing piece of work.
These poems are packed with emotion and are able to eerily cut to the heart of many issues of society and humanity (especially those of the human spirit and condition in the modern world) that bear examining. The writingitself is simple yet complex. accessable, yet in many ways riveting... check this one out! ... Read more

17. Common Carnage (Poets, Penguin)
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 144 Pages (1996-04-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$4.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140587489
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Tipping the standards
Having read Dobyns' essays on poetry in Best Words, Best Order, I was curious to read his work.Three years later, I just got around to it.If you believe his aesthetic, that poems create themselves and put the conscious and unconscious in one room and let them duke it out, Dobyns is not your man.He speaks against "earnestness" and likes nothing more than a poem that uses humor to blunt seriousness and throw readers off kilter.At the same time, Dobyns believes a poem should be beholden to no one, that poetry cannot, must not, "play nice."Those two perspectives do not always meld well.It is tough to be sincerely hard-hitting without earnestness AND evoke a chuckle or two along the way.In one poem in this collection, "Artistic Matters," Dobyns means to locate a scary monster in each of us."There is nothing he loves," he tells us, and blames the monster for murder and mayhem.Yet Dobyn's monster seems well under control--not just in Dobyn's witty and neatly even lines--but in the "artistic matters" that he wears like so many layers of silk.I've come to the conclusion that it may be unfair to judge Dobyns by his impossible and theoretical standards.The poems WERE nice--clever and gently revelatory--and that may be enough--but this collection left me wishing he weren't periodically compelled to trot phony monsters out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic work
_Common Carnage_ is by far one my favorite works of poetry.The poems are written in a plain English that even those who don't like poetry should enjoy reading.Dobyns deals with a variety of interesting topics, including the writing process itself and the nature of art.What seems to concern Dobyns most in this work, however, is how we are all connected to each other through a series of common ideas and events.The book culminates with the incredible poem "Crimson Invitation," which asks why anyone would want to end his life, because even the most mundane aspects of our lives make them worth living.Incredible stuff for poetry lovers and even those who don't read poetry.Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific, as they say
Stephen Dobyns has a real gift for the free verse line--deceptively conversational in tone, but if you look at a poem closely, you realize just how carefully each line is constructed.What you get is an incrediblyreadable collection of poems that get through to the reader with just theright tone, and which stand up very well to closer scrutiny (if you're intothat sort of thing) and rereading.Dobyns has, I think, a uniqueunderstanding of the relationship between the Poet and theReader.

Dobyns's earlier poetry is great too, but this is a fine bookwith which to start.

2-0 out of 5 stars No Cemetery Nights
Cemetery Nights is an important and influential book of poems but in no way will Carnage be this, there is a boring artificiality to much of this work and a lack of engagement with anything resembling that which I wouldcall important. Doyns strength for years was his tenacious psycholicalinsight.His poems were microcosms of emotional conflict and imaginarymoves.But that is the main problem with this book.Where is theimagination?What do these poems offer me, ask of me, give to me, say tome that isn't obvious, at times even dull. ... Read more

18. Saratoga Strongbox: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery Starring Victor Plotz (Racetrack Mystery Series)
by Stephen Dobyns
Paperback: 224 Pages (1999-07-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$1.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014028012X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Another winner from the fast-paced racetrack mystery series that gives the reader a run for his money.

The latest, and most entertaining installment yet, in this popular series features the return of Charlie Bradshaw's scheming alter ego Victor Plotz, "without whom the world would be a much stuffier place" (The New York Times Book Review). Victor is as crooked as Charlie is straight, and he'll do anything to make a quick buck, including running up to Montreal to collect a suspicious suitcase for a miserly old man. But when he decides to farm the job out to a bumbling black belt accomplice, all hell breaks loose--and the fun begins. In a slapstick, sinister farce with an unforgettable cast that includes Vic's main squeeze, Rosemary, an Amazon stripper named Sheila, and two kneecapping thugs called Steel and Clover, Victor and Charlie embark on the trail of every deadly sin from dirty money to outright murder. Once again Charlie Bradshaw and his hapless henchmen provide what the Boston Sunday Globe calls "jaunty and colorful, good tongue-in-cheek fun"--and what fans of the series have come to expect.Amazon.com Review
Stephen Dobyns is nothing if not prolific: Saratoga Strongbox is his 13th novel in 12 years, and the 10th in his acclaimed Charlie Bradshawseries. His new novel sets Charlie and his sidekick, Victor Plotz, on thetrail of dirty money when Victor agrees to collect a suspicious suitcase inMontreal for old man Weber. Unfortunately, when Victor decides to farm thejob out to Eddie Gillespie, a bumbling black belt with an overactiveconscience, he's quickly embroiled in a fiasco involving kneecapping thugs,an Amazonian snake-wielding stripper, and an overly greedy heir to amoney-laundering fortune. Even more anxiety-provoking are Victor's fearsthat his girlfriend Rosemary, "the Queen of Softness," has been steppingout with a mysterious Dodge-driving Lothario. Make no mistake, Victor andhis reactions are the stars of this novel; plot comes a distant--but stillenjoyable--second. Victor might best be thought of as Thoreau meets GrouchoMarx meets just about any character you can think of from a Samuel Beckettplay. An inveterate student of the human condition with a penchant forobserving and participating in the myriad absurdities of life, Victor feelshis wallet throb whenever anyone mentions a quick buck.

The New York Times Book Review has noted that "Dobyns is every bitas good a writer as Dick Francis." Wrong. When it comes to dialogue andcharacterization, Dobyns is by far Francis's superior. Dobyns's sardonichumor is ever-present, percolating just under the surface or erupting intodead-on descriptions of the motley characters who populate his novels.Saratoga Strongbox gives the reader a thoroughly rousing ride to thewire. --Kelly Flynn ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Cute Mystery with Some Local Color
I bought this book a while back and was happy to come across it. The mystery is light, nothing too scary or deadly, but it is entertaining. I am from the Saratoga Springs area, so it was nice to read about some references to the city and the surrounding areas in the capital region. Overall It's a fun book. I have yet to read the other mysteries in the series but I have a feeling I will enjoy them.

3-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Dobyns, but Bring back Charlie Bradshaw!
For a transplanted Easterner, this book is again like a family reunion.

But please Stephen, bring back the narrative from Charlies point of view. Victor gets a little boring after a while.

1-0 out of 5 stars What happened to Charlie?
I have read all the "Charlie Bradshaw" mysteries.I feel that the later books are entirely too frivolous with Victor as the main character and narrator.They have a very different feel and it's not onethat I like.When Charlie was the star of his own books and Victor hisside-kick, the amount of humor was just right.Now the books are just toogoofy!

4-0 out of 5 stars I thoroghly enjoyed it;consumed it in a stretch!
The latest offering is as consuming as the previous entries. Using Victor(Vic) is always welcome as a narrative. Having visited Saratoga on several occasions adds to the excitement: I canenvision Charlie, Vic,Eddie and Steel and Clover, tearing up the streets!

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm sitting on the edge of the seat of the guy next to me!
You are only 1 click away from ordering the latest offering from Stephen Dobyns. Charlie and Victor are at their usual best; a page turner that I read in two sittings; a must for those who've read the previous"Saratoga" series! ... Read more

19. Saratoga Headhunter: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 224 Pages (1991-09-01)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$10.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140156062
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The decapitation of a former jockey hiding out in his house is just the beginning of Charlie Bradshaw's troubles.

An old man dies in a fire, murder finds a stable owner, Charlie's Volkswagen is blown to bits. And while tracking down the vicious killer, the ex-cop turned private eye must prove that he has no mob connections.

"Charlie Bradshaw makes a most welcome reappearance." (The Washington Post Book World) ... Read more

20. Saratoga Snapper: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery
by Stephen Dobyns
 Paperback: 272 Pages (1987-08-04)
list price: US$3.95 -- used & new: US$25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140088121
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
With his detective agency facing hard times, Charlie Bradshaw moonlights as night manager at a Saratoga Springs hotel. Victor, his partner, snaps pictures of the happy tourists. But not all the tourists are happy with this self-styled Saratoga Snapper.

When one "candid" subject runs Victor down and steals his camera, Charlie gets caught up in a dangerous scheme worthy of Saratoga's colorful past. It proves that passions still roil in this quiet resort town.

"The Bradshaw mysteries are among the most enjoyable currently being written. The humor is engaging, the characters sharply individualized." (The New York Times) ... Read more

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