On Ghosts and Absence: A Review of Terese Svoboda’s “Dog on Fire”

"Dog on Fire" cover

“My brother was dead was what I remembered then,” reflects our unnamed narrator, “and I cried a little the way a car does when the ignition’s gone, a click and a grind, something that needs something, that could be stopped only by stopping.” That balky engine seems a defining image for Terese Svoboda’s new novel. Dog on Fire isn’t itself aflame, but rather smoldering: something that needs something. That’s not a criticism the text delivers an arresting portrait of both melancholy and a way out but rather a description of what’s lacking for the principal players. Both the grieving sister and her fellow-narrator Aphra, the brother’s lover and one of the only characters with a name, fumble after what psychologists call “closure.” 

Continue Reading

Sunday Stories: “When Fatherhood Goes Bad”


When Fatherhood Goes Bad
by Terese Svoboda

A real bonfire. A log, two logs, three, not kindling, a blaze roaring over the water lapping the pier, a place of red eyes in the dark, and crashing flaming collapse.

Men who are willing to think themselves boys stand around as if the fire can fix them, their hands hanging confused without unbent hangers skewered with marshmallow, and the men crying. Men like him, haggard with stuff men don’t want other men to know about.

Continue Reading