Dogs and Water chronicles a piece of a lonely journey, without origin or destination. A young man wandering a nameless path has only a stuffed bear as a companion, which inertly endures his desperation, anger, and musings along the way. The landscape is cold and bleak with few landmarks, and offers only precarious encounters with animals and armed men. These interactions are rife with instinct, the drive for survival, and human ethics concerning the killed and injured. He finds acceptance with a pack of dogs, though their nature is wild and their potential threat is as unsettling as the sudden presence of a massive pipeline on the horizon. In a dreamlike state, the endless land becomes a vast body of water where his boat is destroyed and his body floats in a subconscious space. On land, the road disappears and only blind circumstance remains. All is uncertain and all can be lost, but he continues on regardless.
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ANDERS NILSEN was born in New Hampshire and lives in Chicago. He is the
cartoonist behind the award-winning comic book series Big Questions.
Starred Review. A young man wanders a war-torn tundra accompanied only by a stuffed bear. As he wanders, he encounters various animals and humans who all prove inferior to the lifeless bear as a real companion—imaginary friends are the best ones in a world where everyone competes for meager resources. Nilsen has crafted a haunting fable of humanity and loneliness, confronting tropes about journeys and destinations. "I know this whole venture is not about having a goal," he tells the bear at one point. "But doesn't the whole idea of a journey become kind of meaningless if there's not a sense of some destination?" Each encounter is more troubling than the last: a bus shows up but a passenger shoots at the narrator. A pack of reindeer try to steal the bear. In return, the narrator blinds one of the majestic stags with a rock. A human who shows up in the bleak terrain tries to steal the narrator's pack. The narrator is finally accepted by a pack of wild dogs that lives off the remains of both the humans and animals already encountered. Nilsen's open, simple yet graceful art captures the eerie, empty sense of loss that permeates this unsettling, memorable story. (May)
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