‘Dogs Go Wolf’ by Lauren Groff

Dogs Go Wolf by Lauren Groff, 2018

The magic trick:

Breaking the narrative momentarily for epilogue material that provides a new perspective on the story

This one is an interesting combination of Karen Russell’s “Haunting Olivia” and Groff’s own “The Midnight Zone.” Not a bad thing, per se. Those are two really good stories; two very Florida stories. So it’s not a surprise then that “Dogs Go Wolf” is very much about setting.

I actually love this story. It’s one of my favorites from the last few years in The New Yorker. There is much to recommend here, but I think my favorite aspect is the way the narration breaks right near the peak of dramatic tension. We leave the story’s present tense momentarily and skip forward a couple of decades. We get a picture of how these kids turn out as adults.

On one hand, it’s reassuring. OK, they survive this ordeal, we think. But on the other hand, it’s not exactly a rosy picture of perfect future happiness either. Mostly, though, the brief section refocuses our attention when we return to the story’s main narrative on the island. We no longer are reading for plot or suspense, we’re looking at the world with a more lyrical or symbolic eye, with a renewed focus on the feminist undertones here.

Really great story!

And that’s quite a trick on Groff’s part. 

The selection:

The older sister’s body was made of air. She was a balloon, skidding over the ground. The light on the waves in the bay made her cry, but not with sadness. It was so beautiful, it wanted to speak to her; it was about to say something if she only watched hard enough.

The zip of a mosquito near her ear was a needling beauty. She let the mosquito land on her skin, and slowly it pulsed and pumped and she felt her blood rising up into the small creature.

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