Recital of the Dog

Recital of the Dog

David Rabe

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0802136583

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In classic works such as Hurlyburly and Streamers, David Rabe's depictions of violence and the dark side of the human psyche have won him widespread acclaim. In Recital of the Dog, a painter who has left urban chaos for the country soon finds his hopes of tranquillity shattered by a marauding intruder-a dog that torments his small herd of cows. Desperate to restore order to his world, the man shoots the dog, unwittingly unleashing a nightmare on himself. This is a tale of creation and destruction, crime and punishment, rife with insight and black comedy.


















says the Old Man. My boy and I are linked by a breathless suspense. Tobias’s unblinking eyes are fixed on me, as if he intends, by force of will, to oblige me to speak and give him guidance. But it’s as if I’m drugged, some numbness stupefying my powers. The Old Man puts his arm around my shoulders in a parody of the reassurance I cannot give my son. The effect of his closing fingers ices my groin. “I know your dad doesn’t want me to break my promise,” he says. I can feel his breath on the nape

happiest night of my life.” And then, gulping an agitated breath, he rushes on to his next story, a chaotic, Byzantine yarn about hijacking wine, while I sit there thinking about the dog. For the next few days, I struggle with the fact that something recessive in the tale of that monkey and the man has the power to haunt me, raising slowly but inevitably a sunken desire in me. A week later, I give in. I request and am granted the right to paint. I work on bland, pointless projects like apples,

with moonlight. Imagining that spot in the woods where I have thought the dog’s carcass must lie rotting, I now know there is nothing. When I reach the door, I open it and there is the night. Briefly, things proceed as I expect them to. The passage through the door should bring me onto the porch and it does. After the porch I foresee the vista of the night and pasture and there it is, harrow and all. Beyond the fence, the rising grassland meets the anticipated forest into which I will soon

he’s gone. It’s my nose, really, a sharp sensation. In spite of the stench of chicken guts and feathers clogging my nostrils, I feel I’ve discovered a significant scent, and I hurry off along the hall, pursuing the odors of oil and metal, the penetrating aroma of machines. Traveling on through several twists and turns, I enter a hall that feels unnaturally narrow and then I’m in a wing I’ve never seen before. Sensing something behind a door whose cracks exude the presence of tools, I pause. I

says. “I think we’ve met before—haven’t we met?” “What?” I keep on whispering. “I think we’ve met. Where did we meet?” “Not that I know of.” “You look very familiar. Do I look familiar to you?” I lean close to him, very close, and I’m thinking loudly, You don’t have to admit it. I know you can’t admit it in front of these others. I understand. But if I’m right and you know me as I feel you do, nod twice. Though a pulse of unease surfaces and retreats in his eyes, there’s no doubt that he

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