Riding the Dog

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
148 Pages
Reviewed on 12/07/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Sybil Rosen is an award-winning novelist and playwright. Her young adult novel, Speed of Light, published by Atheneum (Simon & Schuster), won The 1999 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers and was nominated for the 2000 Mark Twain Award. It was subsequently published in German in 2001 by Verlag Urachhaus. Her play Brink of Devotion was a participant in the 1986 Sundance Playwriting Lab in Provo, Utah. A ten-minute play, Duet for Bear and Dog, was published in Take Ten: A Ten-Minute Play Anthology by Vintage Press in 1997 and has received over 100 productions world wide. She is also the author of Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley, a memoir of life in a tree house with the Texas music legend, published in 2008 by The University of North Texas Press. She currently lives in Georgia and is still riding the dog.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Riding the Dog is a short story collection written by Sybil Rosen. The title refers to the Greyhound Bus Lines which is, for many people, the means by which they travel across the country. In one story, the dog is how mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives visit their imprisoned loved ones. In another, a somewhat naive woman travels to Nashville to attend a beauty school. A widow, whose plans to drive to her school reunion in a rented Cadillac convertible are shattered, mounts the steps of the bus with fear and a bit of confusion as to the strangers she'll be travelling with. Throughout the stories, there's a common theme of strangers travelling together, spending hours with elbows and legs sometimes touching and occasionally a sleeping head nestling on a neighbor's shoulder.

Sybil Rosen's short story collection, Riding the Dog, is a lyrical tribute to the people who travel by bus. Each story carries within its theme the varying emotions, hopes and dreams of the passengers, but by far the most striking thing found is the kindness of strangers and the need for some sort of human bonding that goes on within the cramped confines of the bus. The bus drivers sometimes seem almost godlike in their announcements and authoritarian deliberations, though there are a few tales where the driver seems to know and care for each of the souls within his bus. Rosen's prose commands attention. Her characters are finely drawn with all their quirks and oddities, and the reader can't help but get involved in their tale, no matter how short and fleeting. There's romance in the chance for a new start and nostalgia in the trips that head home, but mostly there is kindness, and it's a marvelous thing indeed. Riding the Dog is an accomplished and compelling work that is most highly recommended.

Faridah Nassozi

Riding The Dog by Sybil Rosen is a compilation of short stories about different travelers that use buses to go from one place to the next. The book contains stories about different individuals on the bus as they take stock of their lives, reflecting on their lives so far, the lives yet to be lived and their plans to fulfill. Each story looks at the thoughts, feelings and actions of a different person as they sit quietly on the bus or, on the rare occasion, chat with a random stranger as they move from one place to their next destination. From a mother who decides that she will no longer be taking the bi-monthly trips to visit her husband in prison and makes a decision to take charge of her own life to the man reflecting on dear memories about him and his father, they all travel on these buses and Sybil Rosen narrates their stories beautifully.

The stories in Riding The Dog are short but touching and deeply emotional as Sybil Rosen takes you inside the thoughts and feelings of these lonesome travelers. Each story is very different from the previous one and the next one, yet they all tell stories of these different travelers who sit quietly on the bus. The stories really made me realize that everyone on the bus does not just have a destination to get to but a story to tell as well. Each of these trips on the bus are either taking someone away from one part of their life journey to another or at least continuing an existing journey, be it happy or sad. After reading the stories, the next time I am on a bus, I will probably look at the stranger seated beside me and wonder what their story is, the purpose of their journey, and what they are travelling towards or away from.

Katelyn Hensel

Riding the Dog, though an unusual moniker, is a fascinating work deserving of attention and accolades. Sybil Rosen is the author of these nine short, interconnecting stories about travelers on a bus. They were brought together by chance, or by fate, but this bus ride is the snapshot that we get of their lives for better or for worse, and some of them will leave the bus inexplicably changed in ways they won't even realize.

I enjoyed all of the stories. Each and every one! The way that Sybil writes is deeply personal, with glints of emotion overshadowing each piece in their own way. Some characters read more hopeful, others bitter or somber, yet that quality of emotion is painted over everyone so that you really feel you are getting the depth of the situation and really understanding who they are as people. You almost get a sense that these people are actors, as they have such a theatrical way of speaking and interacting with one another. It was fun to see, and you could really "see" the story happening in your mind's eye.

Riding the Dog is a great read for those of you who want just a bit more meat and potatoes to your fiction without having things get too deep. I mean, things are deep, but you don't leave the book feeling like you just had to shovel emotional baggage all day long. You go in, learn a bit about another human, gain some humanity, and then peacefully go on your way. Can't ask for better than that!


A generous slice of Americana. These short stories present a heart-rending collection of salt-of-the-Earth characters whose lives vibrate with the full spectrum of human longing, loss, generosity, confusion, possibility, and wonder. A book that makes you feel more human and tender - and feel more tenderness for all of humanity - for having read it.

Jan Powell

An amazing literary journey. What a joyful book! Like a box of small gifts to be opened one day at a time. Like Olive Kitteridge, this book shows a crosscut view of American lives. Each story lays bare the lives of so many in this country. I found each one unforgettable and yes, I read them one day at a time. I didn't want it to end too soon!

Patricia Green

Riding the Dog is a beautifully crafted portrait of America, an America most of us don't see because it rides the Greyhound Bus. Told with sharp insight and deep compassion, these nine stories take us and their unforgettable characters on sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking journeys. Veterans and aspiring estheticians, fading musicians and cultural refugees, abused wives and imminent angels all come vividly to life, thanks to Sybil Rosen's compelling storytelling and luminous prose. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Rick Manheim

I've been taken for a ride! And what a ride it is!! Riding the Dog is a wonderfully written and deeply touching collection of short stories. Each character comes vividly to life as Ms. Rosen weaves her way through one thought-provoking story to the next. There are several heart-felt moments throughout that left this reader only wanting more. Ms. Rosen tops my list of favorite authors, and I strongly recommend everyone get a taste of her talent!

Suzanne G

I loved this ebook, and read it on 'the dog' between Kingston and NYC last month. Every seat holds a universe of stories and Sybil is a master storyteller for weaving them together so beautifully. It's a moving and funny and heartbreaking book, and I hope to read the next volume of stories sometime!

Richard Z. Price

Sometimes we run to keep appointments we never made. Sometimes we take the bus. Sybil Rosen's short stories are page-turners with a surprise at every turn and straightaway on the journey. She possesses the uncanny ability to delve into the hearts, minds, and souls of her characters and to share their vulnerabilities and resiliencies with the reader. Her characters are contemporary American pilgrims seeking to unburden themselves of loss and tragedy, and to find some brief redemption, a moment of grace. In doing so, they become intimate strangers. In each tale, something ineffable, tangible or spiritual is exchanged. Rosen has her fingers on the pulse of the American psyche and a musical ear for American language and idiom. So, ride the dog with Sybil Rosen. You may find that the intimate stranger in the back seat is you.

Bill Eisenhauer

Insightful character development and even action in Riding the Dog. The kindness of the author shines though. Thanks for the ride.

David Moscovitz

Read it, loved it.