The Dogs of March by Ernest Hebert
"His life had come to this: save a few deer from the jaws of dogs. He was a small man sent to perform a small task." Howard Elman is a man whose internal landscape is as disordered as his front yard, where native New Hampshire birches and maples mingle with a bullet-riddled washer, abandoned bathroom fixtures, and several junk cars. Howard, anti-hero of this first novel in Ernest Hebert's highly acclaimed Darby Chronicles, is a man who is tough and tender. Howard's battle against encroaching change symbolizes the class conflict between indigenous Granite Staters scratching out a living and citified immigrants with "college degrees and big bank accounts." Like the winter-weakened deer threatened by the dogs of March--the normally docile house pets whose instincts arouse them to chase and kill for sport--Howard, too, is sorely beset. The seven novels of Hebert's Darby Chronicles cover 35 years in the life of a small New England town as seen through the eyes of three families--the Elmans, the Salmons, and the Jordans--each representing a distinct social class. It all starts with The Dogs of March, cited for excellence in 1980 by the Hemingway Foundation (now the Pen Faulkner Award for Fiction).