From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 17 Sep 2003

I mentioned Pinkney Benedict a long while ago and didn't get a rise out of anyone. I'm rereading it now. Here's a few lines:

"You ever hunt a wild hog?"


"We used spears. Pikes with long points and crosspieces welded to them just behind the blade. They were sharp and extremely clumsy. You must have the crosspiece on your shaft, because without it an impaled boar will simply climb the shaft of the lance to get at the hunter. Shove the spear right on through its own body. You use the crosspiece to fight off the boar until it dies."

Although this dialogue is talking about somewhere else, Benedict invokes the flora and fauna of West Virginia like Chandler invokes Los Angeles, playing off it to enforce the atmosphere of the story.

It's the first novel he wrote, following a series of short stories. You can feel the short story writing influence in the novel. It's not your standard stripped down hardboiled fare. Benedict takes his time, but that doesn't mean it's boring. From the first sentence, you can feel an evil wind rising.

Rereading it after many years, I see some similarities between it and Cormac McCarthy's CHILD OF GOD and BLOOD MERIDIAN.

DOGS OF GOD is hundred proof Southern Gothic. Men are savage and brutal beasts under a thin layer of civilization. Men do evil far beyond the call of greed. This kind of wicked reminds me of Kurtz's comment to Marlowe in Apocalypse Now when he asks him if he is an assassin, and Marlowe says he is a soldier. Kurtz scoffs and says, "You are neither. You are a grocery clerk sent to collect a bill."

Benedict is deep into Southern Gothic's portrayal of nature as an allegory for evil, and he's good at it. The scene where the feral hogs are frightened by a coming storm and wreck an abandoned house is great.


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