Thomas Savage's tone grows increasingly dark through the careful plotting of this story. Though not overtly chilling in a relentless sense, there are moments so meticululously crafted that Savage is able to raise the short hairs on the back of the reader's neck. In viewing the story of these two brothers one cannot help but think of Cain and Abel. Yet Phil emerges even more calculated in his callous view of life. It is Rose's marriage to George that propels the plot of The Power of the Dog. Phil sets out to destroy the marriage. George, oblivious to Phil's tactics, is unaware that Phil secretly torments Rose to the point of keeping her in a constant state of terror.
By that measure, Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel The Power of the Dog, set on a Montana ranch some time in the 1920s, is a great, and greatly neglected, work of art, because it contains one of the most complex and fully realized, if utterly loathsome, characters I have ever encountered in a work of fiction. The fate that awaits Phil in this book will be welcomed by most readers, but doubly so because Thomas Savage (who died recently, but lived long enough to see The Power of the Dog reissued in paperback in 2001) managed to create a character in the first place who was so multi-faceted, self-contradictory and true to the magnificent strangeness of human. nature that readers will actually care whether he lives or dies. The Power of the Dog is an unforgettable book precisely because Phil Burbank is an unforgettably complex character.
The Power of the Dog was named "the year's best novel. by the San Francisco Chronicle. It is the tale of two bachelor ranchers and the lovely widow who shifts the precarious balance of their lives. A superb storyteller, Savage spins a dramatic counterpoint of rustic tranquility and the struggle for survival. Contact me: info19782l.
Thomas Savage examines masculinity from the perspective of a deeply homophobic, but closeted, rancher in 1920s Montana in this complex and underappreciated classic. She greeted George and Phil pleasantly enough, so her suicide husband mustn’t have tipped his hand about being taken by the scruff of the neck. Well, hell, what man would dare tell a woman a shameful thing like that? She had got out white napkins for each place, quite an experience, Phil thought, for the cowhands who had about as much use for napkins as for finger bowls. Worth the price of admission to see what the fellows did with them.
I had never heard of Thomas Savage up until a month or two ago. The Power of the Dog is indeed powerful stuff though. Set in Montana ranching country in the 1920s, it deals with subjects that would have been near-verboten back then: homosexuality and pedophilia are only hinted at throughout much of Savage's book, but finally come out into the open in the final explosive chapters. The two rancher brothers, Phil and George Burbank, are two of the most fully realized characters in western fiction in the past fifty years. It would be easy to see this story as a kind of Cain and Abel parable,. I had never heard of Thomas Savage up until a month or two ago.
Thomas Savage is a writer of real consequence. - Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World.
Savage is brilliant on men and women alike in his keenly-observed psychological drama. Wednesday 24 February 2016 21:46.
Optimistically billed as the next Stoner, this 1967 reissue is in fact the better novel: Savage has constructed, against scenery vast and hostile to individual hope, a rich and challenging psychodrama, based on brilliant characterisation – particularly of Rose, for whom living becomes so narrow that she brooded nights on what to wear the next day, and the monstrous Phil. With its echoes of East of Eden and Brokeback Mountain, this satisfyingly complex story deserves another shot at rounding up public admiration. we’re asking readers to make a new year contribution in support of The Guardian’s independent journalism. More people are reading our independent, investigative reporting than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our reporting as open as we can.
I discovered Thomas Savage’s ‘The Power of the Dog‘ by accident while browsing at the bookshop sometime back. Something pulled me and I got the book. Then it lay on my bookshelf for a few months. Then last week it started calling me and I had to take it out and read it. The story told in the book goes like this. Phil and George are two brothers. They own a ranch together, are rich, but lead a simple life. By no stretch of imagination was this evidence of homosexuality. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe when the book came out Thomas Savage gave an interview on what the story was about and maybe he said that it was about repressed homosexuality. I liked ‘The Power of the Dog‘ though I wouldn’t call it one of my favourite books of the year. It was out of print for many years and it was rediscovered in the early 2000s. I am glad it came back in print and I am glad I read it.
Not to be confused with Don Winslow’s book of the same name, this powerful study of revenge and repressed emotion is too little-known and unlikely to turn up on anybody’s list of classic crime fiction. I’m not familiar with Thomas Savage or THE POWER OF THE DOG (although I did read the Don Winslow novel of the same name). I’ll have to track down a copy.