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Email: writerone@shaw.ca

 

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Friday
Jul032015

Have you found a good summer read  yet?

I'm still mulling over my own summer reading selections. Thinking of Harper Lee's atmospheric descriptions of the dog days of summer has me wanting to re-read to Kill a Mockingbird and then follow that up with her newly published second novel. 

I read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud to Schuyler and Alex when they were around nine and six years old, respectively. Wonder if they remember that? I think I rented the movie (remember renting movies from places like Blockbuster?), that summer, too.

This morning I browsed through my bookshelves and pulled out Good Poems, selected and edited by Garrison Keillor, and found a poem about a dog.

Warning! This poem doesn't fit the light and breezy category.

Dog's Death

- John Updike

She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.

Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn

To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor

And to win, wetting there, the words, “Good dog! Good dog!”

 

We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction

The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.

As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin

And her heart was learning to lie down forever.

 

Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed

And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest’s bed.

We found her twisted limp but still alive;

In the car to the vet’s, on my lap, she tried

 

To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur

And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.

Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,

Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.

 

Back home, we found that in the night her frame,

Drawing near to dissolution, had endured her shame

Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor

To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.

 

Updike's poem is a meditation on, and a metaphor of, the power of unconditional love. We have a physical connection to our dogs as they romp, sniff, slurp, lick, and tail-wag alongside us. But we share a deeper bond that always amazes me. Why are these creatures so loyal and loving to us? The poem shoots an arrow straight into the mystery of life; the paradox of living with great love but also great sorrow. A beautiful poem!

Let me know - have you found a good read for the dog days of summer?

 

 

 

Monday
Jun292015

Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer Book Club!

 

 Enjoying breakfast in Seville, Spain, June 2013

 

Would you agree summer reading requires something special? I'm currently reading A House In the Sky by Amanda Lindhout, and while it is fascinating (and heartbreaking), my psyche is craving something that reflects the light breezes of summer, the warmth of the sun, and the sparkle of the light on the lake. My inner world wants to synchronize with the outer world.

I spend a lot more time walking Scout, my wonderful little dachshund, during the summer. Our walks are opportunities to contemplate the books I'm reading, mull over lines of poetry, compose my own lines, and be inspired by my surroundings to dream up new plots, characters, and settings.

I love the idea of 'dog days of summer'. The possibilities of plots, characters, and settings in that concept! A yellow dog lying panting in the stark shade of a wooden porch, the floorboards baked and bleached under a relentless sun. Or think of To Kill a Mockingbird: didn't you experience the scorching and unrelenting sun, the dog days of summer in that book? 

What does 'dog days of summer' mean to you?

Here are some dog-themed books that I have enjoyed:

 

  • Dog On It (& a whole series of dog/detective novels by Spencer Quinn)
  • Marley & Me (Jon Grogan)
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
  • One Good Dog (Susan Wilson)
  • Wolf at the Table 9Augustyn Burroughs)
  • The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (Farley Mowat)
  • Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, & Know (Alexandra Horowitz)
  • Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm (Jon Katz) (dog books by Katz!)

 

What are your favourite books about dogs? 

 

 

 

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