Five Doggone Good Books on Canines
I love dogs. I have a quirky Lab-Chow mix by the name of Maggie. So, with Maggie as inspiration, and a friend's encouragement, I've come up with this wildly eclectic list of five beloved canine titles. Let us know what some of your favorites are.
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst.
In this novel, Paul, a linguist, is devastated by the death of his wife, Lexy, who fell from a tree in their backyard. The only witness is Lorelei, his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. (I had to look it up at the time -- it's a short-haired breed native to South Africa). Desperate for any insight into what happened and why, Paul makes every effort to teach Lorelei to speak. That leads to some comic and downright offbeat moments, all of which are interspersed with flashbacks of Paul and Lexy's courtship and occasionally too-perfect life together. A charming tale enchantingly told.
Good Dog. Stay. By Anna Quindlen.
A slim volume chock-a-block with pithy insights and boundless warmth and humor. The writer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, reflects on the intertwined lives she and her Labrador, Beau, have shared for many years. Very much the dog person, Quindlen passes on the wisdom she's learned from her faithful companion (some cliché, others compelling), all told with sincerity and good cheer. It will make you look at your own dog (or even cat!) with renewed affection.
Dog Year by Jon Katz.
Dog aficionados can't go wrong with any of Katz's delightful ruminations about his beloved border collies. This book continues the adventure begun in Running to the Mountain, which set the scene for all his subsequent doggie tales: Bestselling, 50-year-old author purchases a mountain cabin, looking for meaning, direction and peace. What he finds is an unexpected spirituality and a close bond with two incomparable Labs. Dog Year hones in on 12 months that changed his life -- the loss of his easygoing Labs and the adoption of Devon, one hellion of a border collie who turns his well-structured life upside down. Then he adopts another collie, Homer . . . well, I won't spoil the story. The exploits begin here and continue in a handful of later memoirs.
My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley.
Published in 1956, it's perhaps the finestmemoir of a man and a canine companion. Ackerley was for a time the arts editor of The Listener (the magazine of the BBC) and friend of E.M. Forster, who finagled him a position as secretary to a maharajaH in India, the inspiration for his wry memoir Hindoo Holiday. His later life was consumed with depression and a fatal alcoholism, but his greatest source of joy, comfort and love was his Alsatian, Queenie, (the dog's name was changed to Tulip when the memoir was published, but I'll let you discover why), who became his sole companion during the most fruitful period of his writing life.
What dog books would you add to this list?
-- Christopher Schoppa
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