Walking the Dog
Walking the Dog
A dog walker navigates reentry with a series of high-strung, wealthy pooches.
Former child prodigy and rich-girl kleptomaniac, Ester—renamed into the gentile Carleen for her own protection—is incarcerated after a botched heist. For two decades, time is the enemy. Her twenties and thirties crawl by in stifling isolation. When finally let loose onto the streets of New York, she finds a job wrestling spoiled canines as a dog walker in Manhattan's most elite neighborhoods, relating better with their brutish instincts than with their human owners. Determined to also prove herself a real person, Carleen tries to reconnect with her estranged and ferociously Orthodox daughter.
Amid the strained brunch dates, unsent letters, and the continuing trauma of prison, Carleen begins a slow and halting process of self-discovery. Strikingly funny and self aware, this belated coming-of-age novel asks the question: How do you restart after crashing your first chance at life?
"[A] funny, edgy, and winning novel [that] introduces an extraordinary narrator... One of a kind. Deserves a big splash and lots of readers." —Kirkus (starred review)
"Brilliant and layered, Swados's posthumous novel asks searching questions about the delicate nature of atonement." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Told in short, punchy chapters. . . [the] comically touching mini-portraits of the dogs and their owners, are vivid and sharply realized, and Carleen's attempts to forge a bond with her unhappy 11-year-old daughter move at a believably halting pace. . . . [T]he novel's wit and intelligence showcase [Swados's] talent." —Publishers Weekly
"Swados’ wild imagination keeps the revelations coming right up to the last page." —Newsday
"A beautiful and enthralling read. It manages to contain genius without presumption, illness without stigma, and characterization without oversimplification. The balance of these empathetic factors makes the novel a true work of art, and a must read." —Lambda Literary Review
"Liz Swados was ahead of everybody. A colossus: a singular and unequaled artist. We will continue to study and learn from her art and gain new appreciation for her brilliance." —Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton