Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Dog Days of Reading


By Benoit Denizet-Lewis    |   Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - Off the Shelf
In his NY Times bestselling book, Travels with Casey, Benoit Denizet-Lewis and his Labrador take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip through thirty-two states and into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs. Here's Denizet-Lewis's list of must-read books about every dog lover's favorite subject - dogs!

As I read dog book after dog book for research while writing my own dog book, it occurred to me that there might be too many dog books! Still, I soldiered on. These books were my homework; besides, one needs something to do while curled up next to your dog in a ghostly West Texas RV park. I read so many dog books over the course of my cross-country journey with my dog that I feel well-equipped to tell you about a few good ones you may have missed.

The Difficulty of Being a Dog, by Roger Grenier
This beautiful collection of vignettes by French writer Roger Grenier (and translated by Alice Kaplan) delves deep into literature, history, and metaphysics to explore our complicated, fascinating connection to dogs. Though the slim volume is a celebration of that relationship, it’s an introspective and nuanced one. Grenier writes, “A pet is a protection against life’s insults, a defense against the world, the somewhat vain conviction of being truly loved, a way of being both less alone and more alone.”

Grenier also doesn’t shy away from exploring the ways humans might—often unintentionally—hurt our best friends. “Perhaps those who love their dogs the most are, by that very fact, executioners,” he writes. “Here Sartre isn’t wrong: too close a proximity to humans makes domestic animals unhappy. They spend their time observing their master, figuring out what he’s going to do with them. Everything is a sign—a cough, a glance at a watch, turning off the television. There is no innocent act. Every minute carries its ration of anguish.”


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