One Dog Happy
Publication Year: 2008
In this award-winning debut collection, Molly McNett couples laugh-out-loud dialogue and wry observation reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor with disquieting strains of dashed hope, troubled sexuality, and disillusionment.
The adults in these stories can seem as hapless and helpless as the younger characters. Two neglected daughters use the language of clothes to cope with their parents’ divorce and their father’s mail-order bride. A young girl’s bizarre sexual fantasies help her gain control over the chaos of her family life. A gang of teenagers accuse a farmer of bestiality. A divorced father tries to create a pony-filled world that might appeal to his daughters. In the title story, Mr. Bob, the minister’s housesitter, loses a dog but finds someone to believe in. And in “Helping,” the darkest story in this amazing collection, Ruthie’s anger conquers her religious faith when she takes care of a severely disabled child.
We meet McNett’s endearing, often foolish characters at a point when their minds are open to manipulation by the people and events around them, and the conclusions they draw are heartbreaking: I am not allowed weakness; life treats people unequally; perhaps there is no God. Yet throughout they find quiet moments of possibility, courage, and a return to faith and comfort.
Published by: University of Iowa Press
Series: Iowa Short Fiction Award
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Our parents divorced when I was nine and my sister, Melcy, was eleven. That was the year that Melcy and I moved to town with my mom and spent weekends with my dad in our old house in the country. While we were there, he would sometimes go out to do chores...
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It was her skin that she loved the most. It was clear, even-toned, dewy! She would stroke it, knead it, pull a pinch away from her face and let it snap back. With Oil of Olay, I get the fine, light protection that’s never greasy, she’d whisper, then press up to the mirror with an open mouth, licking the cool glass in circles with her tongue. She was competitive. She liked...
One Dog Happy
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In the middle of a heat wave, in the middle of August, in the board-flat middle of the state of Illinois, in a college town bordered on one side by the tract housing of young families and on the other by the stinky fields and farm animals of the university’s ag department, the minister...
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Allison was the death of things. She took the class hamster home for spring vacation, and her dog knocked over its aquarium and killed it. A month later, she let this same dog outside without closing the fence in the yard; it ran out onto the highway and got hit by a car. “Allison, Allison,” her father would...
Ozzie the Burro
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One Wednesday afternoon at three thirty-five, a girl hung out the school bus window as it slowed for the stop sign on Gordon’s corner. She was fat, with a black, ratted nest of hair and dark lipstick. She crossed her eyes at Gordon, then made a circle with thumb and index finger and plunged a third digit in and out of this circle, as if cleaning a miniature toilet bowl. Gordon was glad that his own...
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When she got home from work—she liked to call it work, not baby-sitting—Ruthie would kneel at the edge of her bed and ask God to control her anger. She did this because she knew she had sinned, but she had a curiosity about her emotions that went beyond her desire for goodness. She could have asked Him to temper the curiosity...
The Iowa Short Fiction Award and the John Simmons Short Fiction Award Winners, 1970–2008
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Page Count: 132
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Iowa Short Fiction Award