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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.