I couldn’t help myself during my most recent visit to Half-Price Books in Seattle, though, because in the dog section, I saw a book called Pack of Two. The cover featured a view of the back of a woman beside a pointy-eared dog and the book seemed strikingly similar to my own memoir. A woman’s love letter to her dog, who just happens to be a shepherd mix.
As it turns out, Lucille is not very much like Isis at all, and the book isn’t really a memoir about her life with author Caroline Knapp. I wish it had been, mostly because that’s what I’m writing, so therefore it’s what I enjoy reading. Except when I start to read a book that I think is like mine, I get scared. “Oh please don’t be so much like mine as to render mine irrelevant.”
This time, I felt like I was reading a dog version of the early episodes of Sex and the City, when various women and men on the street addressed the camera and told their personal stories. In Pack of Two, Knapp shares dozens of anecdotes about people’s close bonds with their dogs. She’s done a lot of research and this is a pretty good book, but it isn’t what I wanted, and I didn’t learn anything new. Nothing I haven’t heard before.
My biggest complaint is that the pictures of Lucille at the beginning of each chapter are black and white and hard to see. I want more pictures of the dog. Something to think about for my own book. I only just figured out with my last submission that I should be including photos when I share pages with my writing group.
Coming soon: My reviews of Going Home: Finding Peace when Pets Die and A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life, both by Jon Katz. One inspired me to read the other. I think Orson’s story parallel’s Isis’ a little more closely, although I’ve only just begun the book. Pretty sure I know where it’s headed, though, after reading Going Home.