Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where The Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih

This is a book of short stories and I'm going to use the term bittersweet to describe it because each story has some amount of sadness (bitter parts) in it, but with the sadness is also some joy (sweet parts). There's a story of a marriage on the rocks and the couple is taking one last trip together before they head separate ways.. a trip to see if they "still got it" so to speak. The story takes place in Dominica and the woman has a major revelation in a place called Champagne Springs.

How would you like to snorkel here?
There is a girl struggling to care for her schizophrenic mother and wondering if she will come down with the illness herself. There's a man who works as a caretaker and consorts with ghosts in a ghost town in Montana. (A personal favorite of mine. Found myself wishing that was a novel.) I was especially touched by a tale of an old man who chops down his own family picnic table for an excuse to talk to his neighbor about the loss of his daughter. I am not elaborating any more than that. There's also a tale of a young Indian girl being shunned by a white English woman in her own country, India. How must it feel to be ostracized in your own country? And I can't fail to mention the brief story about a boy going home after a hard day of mining. He dreads going home and for a very sad reason.

As with all short story books, there were the ones I loved and was touched by and there was also a few I didn't care for or simply had a hard time relating to the characters in them like The Dark Sun which is about a pregnant woman and Say Bridgette, Please which is really very disturbing so the book doesn't hit the 5 star mark, but the stories I enjoyed outnumber the ones I didn't like and the book is staying on my shelf so 4/5.

And I can't fail to mention the best story of all and I admit to some bias regarding this one. It takes place in Puerto Rico and and is about a young woman with a neck deformity who has possibly found true love. I'm biased because A. I love stories that take place in Puerto Rico and B. I love reading about handicapped women that rise above obstacles. Thus, this one was my favorite, but some of the stories I mention in my first paragraph are tied for second place.

The real bakery in Puerto Rico that inspired the story, Delight.

And for those that are interested, the author was kind of enough to provide a recipe to coconut kisses, besitos de coco, a candy that the Puerto Rican heroine makes in her shop.

2 cups grated fresh coconut
1 cup water
1-1 ½ cups turbinado sugar
Combine the coconut and water in a saucepan with a heavy
bottom. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar. Reduce heat to low
and cook for 30 mins. Stir occasionally or until mixture
becomes thick and sticky. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased
cookie sheet. Let cool completely. Optional: can drizzle with
chocolate or dip in melted chocolate. For a crispier kiss, bake
at 350 degrees for 10-15 mins. till golden brown around the edge
A short, bittersweet read and well worth it. Many of the stories will stay with you.

I received this book from the author who made it clear that no review was required or expected of me. I chose to post this because I WANTED to. My review is unbiased and honest.


  1. Oh my goodness Tara, What a great sounding book. I love that recipe too. Are you going to try and make it? I would love to give it a try but would have to use regular sugar.
    To bad this isn't one of your give a way's I would enter for this one. Good job as always Tara.

  2. This is an excellent review, it makes me want to read the book - you've told me just enough to whet my appetite, but haven't given too much away! The recipe sounds quite yummy, what could be better than coconut and chocolate?! (Sawyer)