“Why don’t we have a word for the utterance between laughing and crying?” -The Dog Stars
The first thing you notice is the broken prose—but coming from a broken man, it seems fitting. Higgs, the protagonist of Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, speaks in halting, rambling phrases that blindside you from time to time with their power and insight. There is a familiar state of being in this novel, a space between beauty and tragedy, in which so much art seems to dwell. And it’s in that state that Higgs confronts the void of a post-apocalyptic world—through poetry, through fishing and flying, and most of all through genuine companionship. As I write this, I’m reminded of so many recent tragedies, in which the horror of life assaulted is blunted by the beauty in those who respond and rebuild. In times such as these, The Dog Stars is a respite and an honest reckoning.