The Way of the Dog

A novel by Sam Savage

January 8, 2013 • 5 x 7.75 • 152 pages • 978-1-56689-312-1

A disillusioned artist looks for meaning in the wreckage of his life, and finds it in unexpected places.

Sam Savage’s most intimate, tender novel yet follows Harold Nivenson, a decrepit, aging man who was once a painter and arts patron. The death of Peter Meinenger, his friend turned romantic and intellectual rival, prompts him to ruminate on his own career as a minor artist and collector and make sense of a lifetime of gnawing doubt.

Over time, his bitterness toward his family, his gentrifying neighborhood, and the decline of intelligent artistic discourse gives way to a kind of peace within himself, as he emerges from the shadow of the past and finds a reason to live, every day, in “the now.”

About the Author

Sam Savage is the best-selling author of Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, The Cry of the Sloth, Glass, and The Way of the Dog. A native of South Carolina, Savage holds a PhD in philosophy from Yale University. He was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the PEN L.L. Winship Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Award. Savage resides in Madison, Wisconsin.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“Stream-of-consciousness fiction with a satisfying emotional weight: another intriguing experiment in narrative voice from Savage.” Kirkus

“An elegiac, articulate tale.” Publishers Weekly

“With paragraphs as rich as koans, this is as powerful a meditation on living life—and facing its end—as you are likely to read anytime soon.” Booklist

“Savage . . . has created something of a late-life oeuvre examining the interior world of the end years of life . . . and once again we are treated to this writer’s uniquely unflinching, painful yet beautiful examination of an aging, regretful intellectual and how a life story rarely has a logical ending that makes the beginning and middle parts make sense.” Star Tribune

The Way of the Dog is perhaps [Savage’s] best novel yet. . . . It’s as if Savage has rolled Bukowski’s Henry Chinaski, Ellison’s Invisible Man and Dostoevsky’s Underground Man into a more forgiving modern observer.” Shelf Awareness

The Way of the Dog is a deeply felt meditation on the ability to find peace as we age and how our existential dread can be turned into something sublime and meaningful.” Kansas City Star

The Way of the Dog is Savage’s most elegiac, tender novel to date. . . . For this besieged but genuine artist and writer, grace arrives as a second chance to appreciate, in what time he has left, the fact that life—and art—is never about getting everything right.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“In this expressive and finely written novel, perhaps Sam Savage is indicating that a frail pact can be made by two adults to continue on living, and if it includes care and love, it will keep people alive, not in a blissful peace, but in a cessation, however short, from illness and painful memories.” Winnipeg Review

“When you put down this book, you’ll want to think about it. . . . It will soon become apparent that you are now a part of Savage’s world, which is the great triumph of any piece of literature.” NewPages

The Way of the Dog is poetic in nature, both for its lovely prose, but also for the stance: searching looks at the things closest to us.” January Magazine

“Sam Savage has crafted a rich and thought-provoking small masterpiece.” Shelf Unbound

“In elegant, lively prose, [Savage] gives voice to the voiceless . . . and the marginalized.” ForeWord Reviews

“Savage manages to get his readers emotionally invested and questions the idea of ‘progression’ in the arts, yet he also highlights the importance of art and the inner peace it can bring.” Badger Herald

“Savage’s novels are tragicomic, funny, outrageous, unlikely, fantastic . . . and eminently readable.” WOSU Columbus Public Radio

“Savage’s writing is full of wickedly off-beat humor while disquietingly delivering spot-on characters who represent the ails of America (and American fiction).” Hot Metal Bridge

“The startling clarity and unrestrained candor of Nivenson’s remarks yield a deeply registering performance. . . . The Way of the Dog may not be Savage’s most charming book, but it is his most compelling.” On the Seawall

The Way of the Dog is a story about a man finding peace without the restrictions of an identity defined by profession; without the ways that childhood traumas shape identity; without whatever he ‘does’ or ‘did’ or has not done as an artist, major or minor—all while the world grows younger around him.” BOMBlog