The Lede To Our Undoing

Product Details
$25.00  $23.25
Saddle Road Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.61 inches | 0.76 pounds
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About the Author
Donald Mengay grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked in a factory for a time and managed a bookstore. He began writing fiction in his early twenties. He taught Queer and Post-Humanist Lit at the City University of New York for over thirty years, as well as English at the University of Paris, Nanterre. During his years teaching he published several articles of queer criticism in academic journals that include among others Genders, Genre, and Minnesota University Press. He also co-published a book entitled Dis/Inheritance: New Croatian Photography, from Ikon Press. The Lede to Our Undoing is his debut novel, the first in a trilogy. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"'I know not only his tread but those of the others, though he assumes I'm oblivious, ' Molly notes, the line exemplifying a narrative voice that's rich, inventive, at times somewhat dense. Stories told through the perspective of pets offer a unique view into relationships dynamics between family, friends and lovers, and from the eyes of a character that sees everyone at their most unfiltered-Molly knows that Jake sees her as 'Anything but myself: a thinker like him.' Through this dog's-eye-view, the reader has the opportunity to see Jake searching for himself in both simple and complicated ways, and learns through Molly's perspective truths like the reason Peacoat disappeared -a mystery to everyone else . . . Often beautiful, always surprising, Molly's storytelling makes the familiar feel fresh." --Booklife

"In Mengay's novel, love is won and love is lost in this account of a gay man coming of age in the 1970s, told from the perspective of his dog. Molly, the narrator, is dead: 'As a final straw they buried me in this traffic circle under the cover of night, ' she gripes in an arresting opening line. Molly is also a dog, and it's through her eyes, as she reflects on her history, that the reader also witnesses the life of her young owner, Jake. Jake and his twin sister, Wren, acquire Molly as children at the height of the Cold War. Molly observes Jake and Wren, noting how they grow and change. Notably, she watches them fall in love, and sees their romances flatly rejected by their family: in the Midwest of the 1970s, interracial and queer relationships are taboo. It doesn't help that Jake's two major romances are messy: Romeo is forceful and demanding; while Peacoat, the boy he dates after his relationship with Romeo ends, is notably gentler and softer, he is tied to a non-traditional, fervently religious sect. In the words of another character, Peacoat's group '[s]ounds 'spicious to me.' Mengay's prose is extremely dense-his writing is colloquial and evocative of a specific time and place, but it's also markedly literary in style and content. When Jake and Romeo have sex, the author draws attention to their shadows, 'their darker selves, ' before describing their physical actions. Throughout the text, Mengay makes clear homages to other works of literature, and his writing recalls that of T. S. Eliot, Kafka, and Thomas Wolfe. The reader may question how a dog is able to catch all of these details, but the voice never feels gimmicky. Instead, it provides both otherworldly omniscience and tender intimacy to the narration. A triumph. A close look at falling in and out of love through the eyes of a dog -- a smart dog, who has clearly read the modernists." -- Kirkus

"Deftly written, original, eloquent, compelling, and all the more impressive when considering that "The Lede to Our Undoing" . . . was his debut as a novelist and will have a special and particular appeal to readers with an interest in LGBTQ and social issue fiction. Mengay's narrative driven storytelling style rises to a level of literary excellence that is unreservedly recommended for both personal reading lists and community/academic library General Fiction collections. 'The Lede to Our Undoing' is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf." -- Midwest Review of Books