Quindlen, Anna. Good Dog. Stay. New York: Random House, 2007. Summary
: Bestselling author and Newsweek
columnist Anna Quindlen reminsces about her black Labrador Retriever Beau and considers what dogs can teach us about living a good life. Comments
: Step back for a moment. Take a deep breath. Now, bear witness to Random House's audacious, unabashed bid to make a quick buck at the end of the year by taking advantage of that apparently large segment of (female?) readers who will buy any book, no matter how badly written, provided it has a dog on the cover. And plenty more pictured on the interior pages. With me so far? Good.
Because this book is not, by any stretch of the imagination, badly written. Quite the contrary. It don't get much better than this. When the first version of Beau's (at that point) premature obituary was published in Newsweek
earlier this year, I opined to friends and family that it was one of the best short pieces Quindlen had ever written. I even saved the magazine and hoped to take it with me to a book signing. (Unfortunately, I was moving at the time, I couldn't go, and the magazine got thrown away. T_T ) In book form, all of those great lines are still there, and it's still one of the best short pieces she has ever written. Those prosaic anecdotes common to any dog owner--tortuous vet visits, stolen food, chasing after an escapee, behaviors good, bad, and eccentric--are told with wit, originality, and rare humanity. My favorite line (from both the article and the book) is: One summer he was skunked three times and spent weeks studded with spines after indulging his taste for advanced decomposition by rolling on a dead porcupine.
I dare anyone to tell me that this is not downright hilarious.
Blessedly, Quindlen does not resort to anthropomorphizing her dog in order to understand him and his impact on her life. Her tale is a mixture of well-told fact and non-literal metaphor; she never presumes to speak for Beau. No, his life speaks for itself, and those are words enough. Shouldn't, Quindlen argues, that be enough for us also--to live and love in each moment, in satisfaction, without recrimination? Notes
: hardcover, 1st edition Rating
- Beautiful, funny, heartbreaking...and absolutely unforgettable. Not to mention a fast read on top of all that. What more could you ask of this delicious holiday confection?