Letting Loose the Hounds is my first encounter with Brady Udall's work. His name kept popping up here and there, and I read somewhere that Benjamin Percy really liked his work, this collection in particular, so I decided to check him out.
This collection came out in 1997, and it reads to me like a young man's collection, and I mean that as a compliment. There's a certain energy to these stories that comes through not only in the prose but in the stories themselves.
Of the 11 stories in the collection, 10 of them are written in the first person, and only one of the 10 is from a female perspective. Of course, I point this out not as a judgement, but merely to help give you the feel of the collection. These stories, generally, deal with young men trying to find their place in the world. Most have encountered hard times, but a sense of hope permeates virtually the entire collection, and it never feels cheese or forced. Another thing I admire is the way Udall isn't afraid to take the reader on a ride. Some strange--nearly implausible--things happen in these stories, but I was never taken out of the story because of it. For example, in "Midnight Raid," a six-foot-three Apache Indian carries a goat into his ex-wife's back yard in the middle of the night; in "Ballad of the Ball and Chain," a man leaving his bachelor party with a Civil War-era cannon ball chained to his ankle drives his convertible into a reservoir and drowns because the ball and chain make him sink; and in "Letting Loose the Hounds," Goody Yates has just gotten shoddy dental work done and is wandering along the side of the road, bleeding, out of his mind on laughing gas.
I don't think there is a single story I didn't enjoy, but among the best were "Letting Loose the Hounds," "Vernon," "Beautiful Places," "He Becomes Deeply and Famously Drunk," and an excellent, touching flash fiction piece, "The Wig," about a young boy who gets a wig out of the garbage and wears it to the breakfast table.
In all, I really enjoyed the collection. Though I probably won't get to it anytime soon, I look forward to reading Udall's newest novel, The Lonely Polygamist.
Here's a few interviews, reviews worth taking a look at:
Interview from 2002 at Indentitytheory.com, Interview from last at Bookslut, and a long profile in Boise Weekly from 2009.