Dogs play a prominent and meaningful part in three new “good read” books. Let’s Take the Long Way Home explores a friendship and a shared fascination with dogs; A Small Furry Prayer examines the culture of rescue and the meaning of life, and rounding it out, a crime novel, Dog Tags.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home: a Memoir of Friendship, is intensely moving, without a hint of sentimentality. It is part memoir and part biography of a friendship and it should be read and cherished by Bark readers. Gail Caldwell is a fiercely private, independent, talented writer (with a Pulitzer Prize for criticism) and a dog enthusiast. Her friendship with Caroline Knapp (author of a Bark “good read,” Pack of Two) was inspired, one might say authored, by their love of dogs. As this “pack of four”—Knapp with her mixed breed Lucille, Caldwell with her Samoyed Clementine—explored the woods of New England together, they created a profound and lasting attachment that has transcended grief and transformed lives. We highly recommend this book. See Gail Caldwell talk about her book and her friendship with Caroline.
A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler is part Hunter Thompson part Carlos Castaneda but mostly so original that it’s difficult to peg. Kotler examines the “cult and culture” of dog rescue, which he says is the largest “underground movement” in America, from the perspective of someone who definitely is living the life. A LA guy with a hankering for adventure who falls in love with a Joy, a dog-loving woman, they buy a small place in Chimayo, New Mexico, move there with eight dogs, all rescues, all “special” needs dogs. They start Rancho de Chihuahua, a sanctuary for these dogs (and many others who follow) with scant resources except an intense drive to save dogs. The narrative takes the reader to many places, to the dogs themselves (all richly drawn characters in their own right) to an exploration of the meaning of “dog” and of our long history of fascination with them. This is a delightful, rich read sure to take you to unexpected places and beyond. To catch Steven Kotler reading from his book, see schedule on the next page. See the video below:
Dog Tags, David Rosenfelt’s newest “Andy Carpenter” mystery, is a good weekender read. For those unfamiliar with the author’s previous books, his main character is Andy, an attorney with a passion for dogs, who is far happier walking his Golden Retriever, Tara, than working a courtroom. When he can be cajoled into practicing his profession, however, his often-unorthodox tactics usually carry the day. Aside from Tara, other members of the ensemble are also present and accounted for in Dog Tags, including Willie Miller, who oversees Andy’s Tara Foundation* rescue work; Laurie Collins, love of his life; and Pete Stanton, police lieutenant and sports-bar buddy. Dog Tags has all of the author’s trademark elements: a client, falsely accused; a dog in need of protection; and, of course, a murder—or in this case, several murders. The client is an ex-cop and Iraq war veteran who lost a leg and then his job on the force. The dog is his highly trained German Shepherd K9-unit partner, also released from duty. Toss in financial shenanigans, profiteering and a hard-core hit man, and all the elements for an engrossing story are in place.
* The Tara Foundation is a real organization, established by Rosenfelt and his wife; to date, they’ve rescued and rehomed about 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens; the ones that can’t be placed stay with them.) See a video about the Tara Foundation on the next page.