Woof! Writers on Dogs
Woof! brings together original essays from acclaimed writers probing the sometimes tumultuous, often selfless love affair between human and dog. Within the pages of Woof! you’ll meet mutts and purebreds alike, including a pug, a German shorthaired pointer, a pitbull, a German shepard, a Newfoundland, an English bull terrier, and a miniature schnauzer.
Contributors include Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Abigail Thomas, Anna Keesey, Rick Bass, Chris Adrian, Jim Shepard, Antonya Nelson, Denis Johnson, Jayne Anne Phillips, Ron Carlson and more.
"Another book about dogs? More slobber and soulfulness and uncurbed enthusiasm? Yes, because Woof! (Viking), edited by Lee Montgomery, is an especially fetching collection of essays (including two, by Abigail Thomas and Jim Shepard, first published in O) that proves you can't have too many lessons in ferocious devotion. Wolf down Anna Keesey's growling "Let's Go, My Love" and Chris Adrian's "A Good Creature"—as soulful as they come."
"Montgomery (The Things Between Us), a memoirist and executive editor of Tin House magazine, delivers personal essays from writers--including Barry Hannah, Victoria Redel and Denis Johnson (whose essay is written from the point of view of his curiously military-minded bullmastiff, The Colonel)--that capture "the soul essence of dogs" in a way that will touch the hearts of canine owners everywhere. From novelist Tom Grimes's description of his dog Charlie's "zigzagging, semi-Homeric" outings to Lydia Millet's paean to her pug Bug, "a confounding and holy monster," each author presents a memorable dog each possessing much devotion and baffling eccentricity. Other than Millet and Yannick Murphy ("The Sea of Trees:)--who presents an ode to Tom, his huge, slobbering and totally good-natured Newfoundland--almost all of the essayists prominently feature descriptions of their dogs' deaths, each of which is affecting but read together can be a profoundly sad experience for those with dogs. This fine collection works best if readers give themselves adequate time for reflection--and sometimes a good cry--between each essay."
"Edited and featuring a contribution by Montgomery (The Things Between Us), this collection of canine essays by writers includes reminiscences of long-gone childhood pets and pieces on the stress of picking the right companion and living with our four-legged friends. Unlike several other recent dog-lit anthologies, this volume presents original writings that display an atypical depth. The tone of the essays ranges from the humorous (Abigail Thomas on sharing a bed with her three dogs, all of whom have a strong sense of entitlement) to the reflective (Rick Bass and Barry Hannah on saying good-bye to a beloved dog). Paul Winner's "Nightmares" evolves from a description of his sick dog to a meditation on family, memory, and faith. This collection should be popular with dog lovers who are looking for something a little different. Recommended for larger public libraries."
Newark Star Ledger
"Love resonates throughout this richly varied essay collection. Authors tell nostalgic tales of the canine companions who accompanied childhood adventures. There are rueful but fond memories of the antics of destructive puppies who grow up to be faithful and mellower friends. Beagles, schnauzers, spaniels, Labs and retrievers leap from the pages as working dogs, neighborhood celebrities, beloved family members and surrogate children. Some authors declare themselves dog lovers and list the names of dogs they have owned - as though it, too, is some kind of pedigree. Others tell the story of one particular dog who charmed his way past their reluctance."
"A bittersweet thread runs through many of the stories because part of the nature of dog ownership and our bond with dogs is the knowledge that we will outlive them. That gives many of these essays an elegiac note, sharpening the sweetness of memory."
The storytelling skills make it impossible to select a "best in show."