BOOK & BLOG
April 25, 2011
Books of the Week:
I reread three books:
Why reread? There’s something to learn from all three of these books. Lawrence Block has been a mystery industry powerhouse for literally decades, and his Keller books, about a curiously neutral hit man, are huge favorites of mine. Keller is calm, casual, undistinguished, and a stamp collecter. He also happens to be a ruthless murderer . . . for profit. I’ve often spoken of Barbara Pym in this space, and I find that once I read one of her books, I want to reread more. I love the way she picks the smallest details and spells out their significance. Laurell K. Hamilton is coming out with a new Anita Blake book soon, so I wanted to refresh my memory of the last one.
Tina Fey is funny, articulate, and self-aware, all of which you’d expect in a top comedy writer and performer. In this collection of anecdotes about her upbringing and her career, she’s just as engaging as she seems as a performer. She’s also overwhelmingly intelligent. I really enjoyed this book.
I just began Water for Elephants, and it’s interesting so far. I think I can see how it’s going to “lay out,” the narrative track it’s going to follow. I always like being wrong, but if a book is well written, it really doesn’t make a difference. I can enjoy the expected path, too.
When people ask me how I spend my time each day I’m tempted to say, “Dog juggling.” We have four fuzzy friends, fifty percent of whom were left here by our daughter, who’s away at college. Yes sir, we’d be snuggling down with two aged pooches, if it wasn’t for Daughter. Yes, sir. We would.
We have fenced in part of our backyard to keep them safe, after loosing two dogs (yes, Daughter’s) to cars. Our dogs always stayed in the yard . . . until she began acquiring animals. Our older Rocky and Oscar are content to stay in the fence, but Daughter’s dogs are made of more adventurous stuff. One leaps over, one burrows under. We are always plugging up holes.
When we let them out of the fence early in the morning to get in a little running before people are out and about (we live out in the country) we can let out the three small dogs together (Oscar, Scrunch, Colt), but Scrunch and Rocky can NEVER go out of the fence together, or all is lost. They will come back eight hours later, lame, filthy, and exhausted. Once Rocky’s jaw was broken. I suppose they go to some terrible dive for mutts and duke it out with the regulars. I don’t know.
We haven’t solved the problem of the leaper, and never will. We figure Colt will have to fend for himself. We just try to be extra careful when we’re going up the driveway, because he’ll run out to meet us. He’s a muscular little dog; one of my sons said, “He’s a miniature pit bull,” and that may be close to the truth.
Our back yard looks more and more peculiar as my husband tries to block Scrunch IN. We have an odd assortment of paving stones, rocks, and a board to block up her tunnels (on one occasion, we used a basketball). We never have to get her nails trimmed; digging takes care of them. She is always dirty. Always. And she is the only one with longer hair, of course. And that hair is mostly white at least, nature intended it that way. Now, it’s matted mud. We expect to see Chinese people in our yard any day, especially when she digs so deeply that her head is invisible. On the other hand, if you need a garden turned up, she’s your dog. She is also proficient in the killing of small animals. She considers herself a lap dog, which would be delightful if she wasn’t so filthy.
So you see why some days I consider myself a dog juggler rather than a writer. They have to go out; they have to come in . . . about thirty times a day. They have to be fed, they have to have fresh water. We’re always counting to see who’s present and who’s not. We have to brush Scrunch. We have to remember to keep shoes off the floor when Colt is in the house, and we must never leave our food unguarded when he is around.
Oscar, bless his little soul, just wants to lie on the couch with his back to the room and get some peace. And Rocky is the unwilling object of Scrunch’s adoration.
I am a bore about our dogs, and I’ve written about them before, but when they take up so much of time, it’s hard to refrain. Most days, instead of being “Charlaine Harris, Writer,” I feel like “Charlaine Harris, dog juggler.”
© 2011 Charlaine Harris