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by Jill Ciment

The author of the critically hailed Half a Life steps boldly into world-class literary territory with this tightly structured yet richly expansive literary thriller that will call to mind the work of Graham Greene and Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky.Thomas, a renowned American anthropologist, his much younger wife Helene, and Finster, a young, culturally shipwrecked AMR (American mercantile riffraff), as he's known locally, enact a tense personal drama of love and tragedy against the much larger historical drama of the Melanesian island of Vanduu, a steaming crucible where East and West, fundamentalist piety and free market fire, decay and sterility augur the future of the world.        Helene has lured Thomas to Vanduu in the desperate hope that its tropical splendor can miraculously heal the fracture that has cleaved their lives: Thomas's health is failing, and Helene simply can't accept that she might lose him. Unable to cope with the gulf of loneliness that his illness has opened between them, Helene finds herself growing more and more desperate as they tour this lush, clamorous paradise that turns out to be no paradise at all. And then Finster appears--young, louche, popping up everywhere Thomas and Helene happen to be, dogging Helene like a lovesick puppy. When a tragic mishap caused by their dance of three accidentally takes the life of a Vanduuan child, Helene, separated from both men, becomes a fugitive left to fend for herself on this troubled, surreal, inexplicably foreign speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.        With a distilled emotional power and prose so tactile you can feel the eroticism and heat on every page, this riveting tale enacts large themes--the inevitable consequences of the hegemony of the American dream, the inexorable loss of a deep, adult love compared to the hopped-up sex-for-sale enticements Finster offers in its place, and a glimpse into what progress, with its spiraling allurements, has truly forfeited.
Download Teeth of the Dog epub
ISBN: 0517702029
ISBN13: 978-0517702024
Category: Literature
Subcategory: United States
Author: Jill Ciment
Language: English
Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (March 16, 1999)
Pages: 216 pages
ePUB size: 1319 kb
FB2 size: 1725 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 533
Other Formats: azw docx mbr azw

Ms. Jill Ciment writes good dialogue, creates a very eccentric, quirky setting, and then populates it with some interesting players. Overall I thought the book was just an average to slightly above average read, but her style of writing surpasses the tale she tells this time around.
The setting for, "Teeth Of A Dog", is not so much a blend of cultures as the wreckage of what would be left after a variety of groups collided. With the cities, villages and the island upon which she sets her story, the population is more of an amalgam than of groups. She creates a place where the most extreme ends of the human spectrum should be set on removing the other, but they all seem to just get along either through necessity or apathy.
The couple of Helene and Thomas would be a bit odd if this had been set somewhere else. Even when the Author gives the background for the start of their relationship it's hard to tell if she is being serious or as outrageous as her island. Thomas is a renowned anthropologist whose fieldwork and studies are as clever as they are bizarre. The specific study the couple originally took together would probably make a great book in itself.
The character of Finster, an American dealing in dubious businesses through a haze of, "mariwana" is eccentric, quirky, and potentially dangerous when his hormones are guiding him. He does have his sympathetic/pathetic moments when the Author has him draw an outline of the woman he lusts after in the sand, and then has him lay next to it respectfully if not reverently.
The book begins rather uncertainly and develops until the circumstances lead to extremes that are so different from the balance of the book they read as if almost separate. Helene's reactions to the events that make her life skid toward madness on this island, that at it's best is a psychotic red light district and theme park was the strongest part of the book. As I mentioned the story was not a thrilling one, but this ladie's writing is excellent, and I look forward to reading more.
Cherry The Countess
The first time I read Teeth of the Dog, I read it strictly for the plot, which I enjoyed and found very entertaining. But the second time I read it, I understood (I think) what it was trying to say about the contemporary culture everywhere around the globe and I found it deeply disturbing, but quite profound. I also got into the language, which had a strange mixture of high brow and low brow, which ultimately only reinforced the message. I highly recommend this book.
This book is a knockout. The story is about coming to terms with the death of someone you love, and I must say, having experienced grief myself, Jill Ciment got it exactly right. She writes about grief in all its permutations, the anger, the sadness, and the selfishness. I also loved the story, fast paced and exciting and very funny at times. Setting it on the South Seas Island of Vanuu, only adds to the feelings of displacement and loss.
Teeth of the Dog is an incredible collage of social commentary and whalloping emotional content. It reads like a skillful thriller. You become so totally absorbed by the characters that you begin plotting what you would do in their situations, wanting to warn them to be a tad more reasonable or a little less passionate. What's especially well defined is the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. Ciment's watertight prose and sensual detail drops the reader in such a vivid place, that you may check your passport to see if it's stamped "Vanduu." With a bleak humor, she shows how our American pop culture and imperialism have wreaked havoc on the unsuspecting innocent in third world counties. In Teeth of the Dog, our collective behavior has come back to bite us in the butt. I loved the character of Finster...he had perfect sleaze-appeal, the dark Adam of paradise. I also adored Ciment's other book, Half a Life, and find myself giving her books as gifts frequently. You'll want to turn everyone you know on to Jill Ciment! Warming: if you loan this book out you probably won't get it back.
This novel has much to recommend it. I loved the language and the story. Most contemporary fiction leaves me bored and I've taken to not finishing most of the books I start. But Teeth of the Dog was different. I couldn't put it down, and even though I finished it over a week ago, I still think about it. It's been a very long time since a novel did that for me.
This isn't literary, it's "literary." Ciment writes with one eye on herself in the mirror as the great writer, and it shows in every sentence. The plot limps along and everything that happens is signalled a mile away. If you're surprised by anything, it's your own fortitude that you've kept reading.
I stayed up all night reading this novel, I couldn't put it down. The writing was so beautiful, the story really gripping, and very sad, too. The island she describes was weird and awesome. If you like Graham Greene, you'll love this book!
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I agree with the other reviewers here who found this lacking. Too much style, too little substance. Like imitation Graham Greene.