A BIG RED BOOK OF DOGS

A BIG RED BOOK OF DOGS

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs, by The New Yorker and Malcolm Gladwell (Random House, 2012). Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt.

At our house, when this book showed up over Christmas, everyone wanted to borrow it! Hold on there folks. I’ve got to read it first, then write this review. And after that I’ll loan it around. It’s a happy read!

     The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs is the newest and one of the finest collections of stories (both fiction and non-fiction), cartoons, poems, and illustrations in print under one big dog-house red cover. This richly produced and oversized tome measures 8 ½ x 11 x 1 inch, and is 395 pages long. It is divided into four topical themes: •Good Dogs, •Bad Dogs, •Top Dogs and •Under Dogs, with 65 authored contributions. It is a true anthology of canine fun, littered with dozens (close to a hundred) illustrations, cartoons and spot art of dogs, dogs, dogs. A good number of the illustrations are by James Thurber; but other well-known artists are also represented.
There are articles here by a good number of famous American writers, starting with James Thruber who was so well known for his essays on dogs and his drawings. But, you’ll also find such popular writers as John Cheever, Roald Dahl, Arthur Miller, Ogden Nash, Silliam Steig, John Updike, E.B. White and many others, including the book’s compiler/editor Malcolm Gladwell.
At one level this book enshrines the lore of dogs in American culture, especially in urban New York culture, and at another level it is a testimony to the significance of Thruber’s contributions to the near canonization of canines in American social history. Each of the topical sections of the book begins with an essay by Thurber, that great presence in America’s mid-20th century arts and letters.
There are stories here about dogs in New York’s Central Park, about the sometimes controversial philosophy of dog training by Cesar Millan, dogs in the popular fiction of John Cheever, the life of Rin Tin in the movies (dating to the 1920s and his roles in some early cinema), and the strange life of Leona Helmsley, the American millionairess dog lover who bequeathed most of her fortune to ‘Trouble’, her lap pet, while ignoring some of her closest relatives with whom she was on the outs.
Each time I dip into this wondrous book for a light read about my favorite animals, I find another gem. One evening, recently, I flipped to the back of the book to see what was in store, and there I found Adam Gopnik’s essay about JamesThurber and his immortal canines.
Altogether, this is a highly recommended read.
 This one gets 5 WOOFS~! 

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About LiteraryDogs

I write and read about dogs, and admire dogs in print; ergo 'LiteraryDogs'. If you have some or all of these same sentiments, let's share our reading/writing knowledge and canine literary insights. My own writings are about Tibetan mastiffs, but I'm flexible and enjoy all dogs.
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