An Epitaph for Coyote: A Novel

Rated 4.40/5 based on 10 reviews
A lonely clerk, a bohemian bug exterminator, shape-shifters, and the American Dream just before its pants fell down. More
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About Bryan R. Dennis

Born and raised near Chicago, Illinois, Bryan later moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and enrolled in UNLV’s college of business. It took a degree in Accounting, three years of daydreaming in cubicles, and a collection of stories piling up on his hard drive to learn that he is a writer and not an accountant. His writing style is most-influenced by screenplays, of which he is a voracious reader. Chandler, Carver, Hemingway, Bukowski, and Murakami are also heavy influences. He currently resides with his family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Learn more about Bryan R. Dennis

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Reviews of An Epitaph for Coyote: A Novel by Bryan R. Dennis

Elizabeth Miller reviewed on Dec. 18, 2011

Henry Pluck lives his life everyday, doing the same thing day in and day out. Henry thinks he is happy. In comes Rosa Santana and she turns his life upside down and inside out. What were shades of tan and beige becomes a rainbow of color and causes Henry to start looking at his life and say, "Am I really happy?" Well done story and hard to put down . It was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon in the sun. Great Job!!
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)
Sue Owen reviewed on Sep. 24, 2011

I had a hard time getting into this story. I think my take away from this is that some people have an even lamer life than I do. The story seemed slow to me but for a characterization piece it was pretty good. Dennis gave a good in-depth look at Henry and the type of person he was and how he interacted with others.

However, I found it rather a slow read. Although well written and edited, the plot seemed to go slowly for me and I had a rough time keeping pace. I wanted more action and more interactions, I guess. But I think that was the intent behind this story. Take the slow, meandering wanderer and he eventually becomes everything he should be and thus becomes a whole person.

Insightful and great characterizations saved this book for me. The story was slow but I think the rest made up for it. You have to be ‘in the mood’ for a book like this but worth discovering along the way.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
TC reviewed on Sep. 15, 2011

Henry Pluck is a dream employee, devoted to his job, always early and never one to indulge in chit chat with his colleagues. His home is spartan and orderly, his diet predictable and his leisure time unusual for a young single man - he visits a nursing home. He is living the dream, and remembering his mum's pearls of wisdom to make his way in the world. That is until his world collides with that of bug exterminator Rosa Santana.

He's attracted by her manner from the word go, but as he gets to know her realises she is a free spirit who thinks way outside the corporate box. She's firmly in the driving seat in their relationship and introduces him to a world he had never really stopped to take time to appreciate. Until they met he hadn't paid any really attention to the desert surrounding Las Vegas, the moon or the impact of urban sprawl. Henry starts to question what he is doing with his life and how to make it better.

At the start of the book Henry was presented as a deeply unsympathetic character, a man whose life is so regulated and perfect I couldn't see myself liking him. However Rosa makes him take a good look at himself and he grows a lot in the course of the book, and also reveals a sense of humour and compassion on the way. Rather than being dull and overly perfectionist he becomes quirky and caring. Rosa is completely off the wall compared to Henry, has a real sense of fun yet is serious and has much wider world view than he does. I liked her immediately and found that she retained a degree of mystery that made her intriguing.

This is a story of human nature and the quest for meaning among other things. It presents a different side of Las Vegas to the one we see so often. It is beautifully written and I loved the amazing imagery the author uses. His descriptions of many things rang so true I could see those things right before my eyes. His observations and way of putting them into words were just spot on and often beautiful.

The only negative I could come up with was the small number of typos including the repeated use of queue rather than cue. However it was a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. I'd love to read more from this author.
(reviewed 75 days after purchase)
Robert Wacaster reviewed on Aug. 24, 2011

An Epitaph for Coyote is the story of Henry Pluck. He’s a quiet, little guy who’s happy as an accountant in his safe, little world. Then along comes a woman named Rosa. Henry finds himself attracted to Rosa, but she’s not your typical girl. And she ends up changing Henry’s view of the world around him.

I really enjoyed this novel. It turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be, but that isn’t a bad thing. The book kept me interested even though it took me quite a long time to finish it! And with a price tag of 99 cents for a Kindle download, the book is well worth the money! Actually, I think it’s vastly under priced.

As you read along, you can see the changes come over Henry little by little. How his work day that was once the center piece in his life, suddenly becomes a vicious drag on him. In some ways, I could relate to him. I kept anxiously waiting for his next meeting with Rosa just to find out what she would be doing next. Taking him up to Redrock to see the sunset, sitting outside a porno shop with kids in her car just to watch customers come out, or teaching Henry how to eat sushi, I loved every minute of it! The story never seemed to drag for me, but there were a few things I didn’t like.

After reading the first chapter, I thought the book might turn out to be some kind of supernatural monster thing. Or that Rosa might be much more than she seemed. And in the book, there are a few parts where she did seem...supernatural. The first chapter seemed a bit disconnected from the rest of the story to me, though. And at the end, we really don’t find out exactly what happens to Rosa. This did bother me just a bit, but in a way the story did come full circle at the end, I guess.

If you’re looking for a very enjoyable book that you won’t be able to finish overnight, (trust me, this one is good sized!) definitely pick up An Epitaph for Coyote. Well worth reading! 4 stars!
(reviewed 56 days after purchase)
Sonia Rumzi reviewed on Aug. 21, 2011
(no rating)
One of the best books I read this year from the new generation. It was sensitive, wonderful and poetic without being mushy or silly. Henry is a likable fellow who meets Rosa who is wild and crazy. The woman shows him life in a different way allowing him to see beauty. He did not change cities, he just changed his perspective. My favorite character in the book is "The girl on the other side of the wall". I liked her a lot.

Dennis expressed all our feelings, hopes and desires with class and humor. A delightful book.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
Kim Deister reviewed on Aug. 21, 2011

An Epitaph for Coyote is one of those novels that just gets under your skin and into your head and makes you take a long look at your own life. The story is centered around Henry Pluck, an average young guy with no small amount of neurosis. He lives alone in a house devoid of personaility where everything is "just so". He works as a finance clerk in an office, never happier than when he is at work. There is a humdrum, "sameness" to his life that has seemingly dulled him to actually living life. Until Rosa Santana comes into his life. She is everything he isn't. She's passionate, free-spirited, and determined to get the most of life. Against all odds, they bond, first as friends and then later as lovers. Rosa opens Henry up to experiences he would never have had without her, expanding his little world. Henry can't help but fall in love with her, even though there is so much about her he just doesn't understand. And Rosa shows her own love for him in her own, unique way.

This book is beautifully written, making you, as the reader, consider your own life and it's meaning. At times, the story is poignantly sad, at others light and humorous. Although Henry is on the extreme end of the "square" scale, there is so much about him that all of us can relate to. While Henry and Rosa are the main characters, there are other, more minor characters that are equally as interesting. Vince, a former friend of Henry's deceased father, has become Henry's friend and father figure. He is the epitome of a grumpy, old man, and reminded me of my own grandfather in many ways. Carlos, a resident of the nursing home that Henry visits, is another grumpy old man, but a likeable one. The loneliness that each of these men felt made my heart ache at times.

As I read, I marked one of my favorite passages in the book to share. As I prepared to write this review, I noticed that the author had shared the same exact passage on his own site. It is a bit of sage advice that Vince gives to Henry and I thought it was wonderful.

"You won't be remembered by your job title. Forget `Henry the Accountant.' If you're going to be remembered you'll be remembered by other titles. `Dad' or `Friend' or `Husband' or even `Grandfather,' those are the titles you'll be remembered by. Or not remembered by."
(reviewed 75 days after purchase)
Jessica Bronder reviewed on Aug. 3, 2011

Henry Pluck is a creature of habit. He only eats sandwiches, he has all of his ties pre-tied into perfect Windsor knots, and he is the perfect worker. He also has a love for older people and has several older friends from Irma, Carlos, and Vince. He loves the different habits and behaviors that they have compared to younger people.

All that changes when he finds a cockroach in his house. When he calls in an exterminator, he meets Rosa Santana and his life is forever changed. Rosa starts to make Henry think about what is going on around him and ultimately if he is happy with how his life is going.

Rosa is a free spirit with a breath of fresh air. She flies into Henry’s life as an exterminator that is fired/quits shortly after she sprays for cockroaches at Henry’s house, with sugar water. Then she arrives in an ice cream truck for her new job. From there Henry learns that she has three boyfriends and painfully meets one of them while Rosa is cutting his hair.

Together, Henry and Rosa see a 4,000 year old movie, discuss the behavior of old people, and look at how people don’t appreciate the nature around them. As Henry spends more time with Rosa, he realizes there is more to life than the little square box that he has enclosed himself in.

I really enjoyed this book. Henry is a perfect example of most people in the world, stuck in their own little worlds now realizing there is more to life. Rosa was a kick in the shorts with all the outrageous things she does. I admit that I probably wouldn’t have chosen this book but I’m glad that I read it. This is one book that you early need to read.

[I received this book from the Blog Fest Giveaway from the author]
(reviewed 15 days after purchase)
Lee Prewett reviewed on July 24, 2011

“In a material society where people define themselves by the things they own, how can individuality exist if everyone owns the same things?”

Beige. Manila folders. That inoffensive, nameless metallic color your Hondayota CamCord comes in every time you buy a new one. Tedium. Ennui.

An Epitaph for Coyote introduces the reader to a boring man, Henry Pluck, who holds down a boring job, to fund his boring life in Las Vegas, the land of bing-bing and bling-dah-bling-bling. He provides us with an uncomfortable mirror in which we see ourselves, but the portrait is unflattering showing us the more we try to control reality, the more imprisoned we become.

The clever naming of protagonist cannot be dismissed. “Henry” could not be a more middle-of-the road name, but his surname, Pluck, illustrates his biggest challenge: to summon the strength to risk, to become plucky. That is the storyline in a nutshell.

To the maximum extent possible, Pluck controls the limits of his space, be it his work cubicle, his house, or the rigid rules in his mind for looking at women. He derives the kind of satisfaction some OCD types revel in. Except, that he is unhappy, if truth be told, and total control remains elusive especially when a lone cockroach wiggles into view and subsequently a bug lady named Rosa.

Mind-numbingly banal memoranda interrupt the story sending out admonishments every one of us has seen where we work and through this device the author cleverly links Pluck’s plight to ours, making his dissatisfaction with the status quo ours.

An Epitaph for Coyote reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s short story There Will Come Soft Rains in which a fully automated house, with unfailing predictability, goes about the business of catering to a dead family after a nuclear war. Like Bradbury’s masterpiece, Dennis’ work has that same, seemingly detached tone, which deepens the reader’s discomfort, and draws us in. As with Bradbury’s piece, social commentary abounds in this satirical novel. The “little pink houses for you and me” world we experience in American suburbia controls us to the maximum extent we allow it to and we need to break free to live.

We want Henry Pluck’s world to be challenged and Rosa is just the catalyst for the job. Paradoxically, Rosa does not want to kill roaches and is quite OK with letting them thrive. The roaches represent a clever metaphor for people trapped in their lives of seeming perfection.

Over time, Rosa jangles Pluck’s world causing him to tolerate more cognitive dissonance over his inability to exert absolute control and bit by bit he relinquishes.

The trick is to be open to change when the bug lady comes to kill your roaches.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Jackie B reviewed on July 15, 2011

Quite possibly this is one of the most thought provoking reads in my library of books that I finished and still could not put out of my mind. Henry Pluck is the character of every man, someone who you might bump into and never notice as his demeanor is such that he pretty much blends into the proverbial wall. That dullness changes when he meets the very charismatic and off-the-wall Rosa Santana. Rosa comes to Henry's house to exterminate cockroaches and soon the two become involved in a friendship that inexplicably works and even turns into a semi-romance at one point...

From Henry Pluck to his elderly friends Vince, Carlos and Irma to the strange young woman Rosa Santana who shines a new light on the darkness that is Henry's life the characters in this story are ones the reader embraces easily.

These are the main characters but the secondary characters that grace a few scenes here and there lend believability to the story as well, especially the co-workers in the cubicles at Henry's work place... Having worked in this kind of environment myself I could easily identify with the boredom and the lack of camaraderie as well...

There are a lot of things that could be pointed out as to why this particular book is a reading experience that should not be missed, however doing so would retell the tale and totally spoil it for those who have not read it themselves. Suffice to say that author Bryan R. Dennis points out that there is more to most people than what we see on the surface, there is a lot wrong with how we act and react towards each other as human beings, there are more wild animals losing their habitats today than there are places left for them to live their lives out as they have for thousands of years and most of all we do not have to "settle" simply because it is easier to do so than it is to stand up for ourselves and be happy living a genuinely fulfilling life.

I have to sincerely thank Bryan R. Dennis for asking me to read An Epitaph For Coyote in exchange for an honest review because it is a truly interesting, funny, sad, happy, gripping and at times bewildering experience that I would have missed out on otherwise.

{Disclosure: this book is the only compensation received by me from the author in exchange for an honest review besides my pleasure in reading the story.}
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)
Hannah Hummel reviewed on July 8, 2011

Quite simply, I loved this novel. I loved it the way you sometimes stumble across a novel that just suddenly hits you like a punch in the gut - and I mean that in a good way. I hate to make comparisons to other works, as I feel a novel should stand on its own, but this one could easily become a modern classic.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)
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