A Dog Between Us
duncan b. barlow delivers tender shocks and the profundity of mercy in this poignant, delicate novel of loss and love. A Dog Between Us holds the reader between what can be said and what is unspeakable in our most vital relationships. This is an unforgettable novel of beauty and delirium.
"Early on, the narrator of Duncan Barlow's moving A Dog Between Us offers a rule to live by: never state the important things. Lucky for us readers, this is a rule broken on every single page of this beautiful novel, a book haunted by the details of dying and grief, by the ways in which every once-hidden mote of a lost life's minutiae can, once revealed, be made to shine, to glow, give back fresh heat and new light."
—Matt Bell, author of Scrapper and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the
Lake and the Woods
"Duncan Barlow traces the sharpened edge of his flawless language across the living flesh of story in A Dog Between Us, and every page bleeds raw, human feeling. Connection, companionship, compassion, the nature of living itself is excised from the inevitability of death, held up to the harsh light, and examined. All love ends, we find, all of us are flawed, and each of us will return to earth, but there is beauty, and tenderness."
—Sarah Gerard, Author of Binary Star and Sunshine State
A Dog Between Us is a loving and moving novel of heartbreaking loss that is also beautifully written—and it is through this beauty that Duncan Barlow provides the reader with some great comfort too.
—Michael Kimball, author of Us and Big Ray
In A Dog Between Us, we are asked, “What words outline a human life?” If we could read the lines cast around our edges – our janky and shining, beautiful and hell-filled edges – what might we divine? Duncan Barlow’s compelling novel gives us a hint: it has something to do with generosity and fever; that moment when the shadows of the words that outline a life turn into a cloud of blackbirds. They break open your heart upon their sudden departure from the field where you believed so long you were standing alone.
— Selah Saterstrom, author of Slab and Ideal Suggestions
The City, Awake
Barlow’s metaphysical noir The City, Awake is a novel of chemically induced amnesia, doppelgängers, fanatics, and killers. Saul, a man without a history, awakes in a hotel room with a note in his pocket. Hunting for answers, he must survive rival assassins, a millionaire with an axe to grind, a shape-shifting femme fatal, a silent hit man, and a psychotic who is only looking for an exit. Barlow evokes a vast mid-century modernist cityscape in prose that is by turns hard-boiled, then unexpectedly psychedelic and delicate. With temporal and spatial distortions reminiscent of A. E. van Vogt’s The World of Null-A, the novel that inspired Godard’s Alphaville, this is a vivid investigation of identity, scientific speculation, and Biblical Apocrypha. The City, Awake is a mirror maze of dark streets and darker secrets.
Labyrinthine, lyrical, and provocative, The City Awake is part philosophical mystery, part dream-like meditation on what it means to be human, all wrapped up into a beguiling postmodern puzzle. Buttressed by Barlow’s luminous prose, The City Awake takes us on an astonishing journey through the darkened bars and hidden alleyways of an expertly-constructed, claustrophobic cityscape where hitmen are sometimes helpless, where femme fatales are seldom what they seem, and where grit and the angelic mingle on every page—a gorgeous surprise.
At times, duncan b. barlow's The City, Awake evokes the kind of atmospheric suspense I associate with the great noir writer David Goodis. At others, I thought of another David Ohle—the weird, visionary author of Motorman. barlow's remarkable accomplishment here is in welding together disparate genre elements to create a fast-paced literary thriller that depicts an authentically absurd and violent world, while offering hope through resistance and hardboiled compassion.
It can be misleading to describe the novel in terms of the cinema. Yet there's a curiosity between them. How do words become pictures? How do words defy them? Are we being misled? In duncan b. barlow's The City, Awake, a clinically reliable narrator prescribes the most unreliable of protagonists: one who may not be himself. But that precision is the math of noir, and in barlow's clear, methodical prose the faceless City unfolds within an iris as tight as his characters' afflictions. Scenes flash by in the strobing of a reconstructed map, a flashlight sweeping through a coma. Are they shards of a life remembered - a life of purpose - or a future captain's log of a system lost at sea? At an intersection between Memento, The Boys from Brazil, and a Rudolph Wurlitzer fever dream, The City, Awake reads like a lost script from the archives of Roberto Acestes Laing, and the viewer watching the reader is invited to get comfortable being uncomfortable. These days, The City, Awake is right on time.
—Jeff Wood, author of The Glacier.