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Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man Kindle Edition

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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A Conversation with Brian McGrory, author of Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man

Q) How did you come to write this book?

A) One day I woke up and the reality dawned on me that, good God, I’m living with a rooster; how did this happen to me? I knew how it happened. I fell for a woman unlike anyone I had ever met. She lived in the suburbs, while I had spent my adult life in the city. She had two daughters. The older of those daughters incubated eggs at an elementary school science fair, and from one of those eggs came a little chick they called Buddy. The chick grew up watching television in their laps and sleeping in a little cage in the living room. When it got bigger, the kids pleaded with Pam to keep it, so the chicken lived in the yard by day and slept on a perch in Pam’s garage at night. Even when the chicken proved to be a big, white, crowing rooster, it didn’t matter to any of them. He still came inside to watch TV. He pecked at the doors. He doted on the kids, and they on him. When Pam and I bought a house and we all moved in together, the rooster came with the whole package deal.

There was one essential problem with all this, quite apart from the weirdness of a rooster living in a suburban house: This rooster had utterly no use for me and wasn’t shy about demonstrating the sentiment. Amid all these transformations in my life—moving from the city to the proverbial leafy suburbs, from a life of total independence to one with two very outspoken young girls—there was a rooster that was serving as my personal drill sergeant. Maybe it was the tenth time he chased me across my new lawn, maybe it was the fiftieth, but at some point it dawned on me that there might be a book in all this.

Q) What does the book mean to you?

A) There would be days that I’d be sitting in my little study writing my column for the Boston Globe, the two kids bouncing in and out, one of the cats walking across my keyboard, and the rooster would position himself just underneath the open window and scream his twitching little head off because he heard me talking to people on the phone. Could have been the mayor or the governor or my editor or an everyday person I was writing about. It didn’t matter. My orderly little life had become total bedlam. But as time went on, I started drawing lessons on commitment, on family, on happiness in general, from this bird that was so completely committed to his flock. And sitting down and penning this book, the good and the bad that go with these significant transitions in life, helped me sort it all out. It’s a story about a rooster, yes, but it’s also a story about tremendous change and how we cope with it.

Q) What’s one of the funniest or most surprising lessons Buddy taught you?

A)Being there. Buddy showed me that, when it comes to kids, mates, people you love, being there is critical, whether it’s convenient or not. And not just being there in physical presence but investing yourself in the moment. Buddy was always there, watching his flock. He didn’t care about what happened outside of our yard, because everything he ever wanted in his life, everything that mattered, was right there. It was nice to see and important to understand.

Q)How have your relationships with Buddy and Harry differed?

A) Harry changed everything for me. He taught me how to really feel for someone or something, to open up and give of myself in a way that I never had before. Maybe I should be embarrassed that a dog could so completely change a man, but I’m not, because he was that important to me. He was wise, fun, lively, an ideal friend, and I wanted to be that in return; and what he taught me was that you often get back in life what you give, and even if you don’t get it in return, you still feel better about yourself when you put it on the line.

Buddy, well, that’s different. Where Harry softened me up in many respects, Buddy did the opposite, showing me that you have to be tough and committed and completely devoted to your flock. They were some tough lessons to learn, especially given his methods, but I’m glad I had him as my teacher—mostly.

Q) What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

A) That animals play a critical role in our lives, or at least they can. That they make us better people in surprising ways. That transitions are difficult, but so often for the better. That you’re never too old to learn a few new tricks. That thick skin is an asset. That the more you give, the more you’re likely to get in return.

Q) How has your career as a columnist for the Boston Globe influenced your writing?

A) It is nearly too broad and deep to get into here, but suffice it to say that it has opened me up to a large, complex, meaningful world filled with everyday people encountering, battling, and surmounting often extraordinary situations and circumstances. People invite me into their kitchens, their businesses, their families, and their lives to tell me their stories, some heartwarming, others agonizing. The job has taught me perspective and proportion.

In terms of writing, it has also infused me with economy. I need to tell often unwieldy stories in a short amount of space, which has made for what I think is a more direct writing style than, say, a magazine writer. I always feel the need to get to the point.

Review

"Hilarious and heart-warming, Buddy reminded me of Cheaper by the Dozen, only with animals. I flat-out loved this book." ---Joseph Finder, author of Paranoid

Product Details

  • File Size: 3554 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307953076
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (November 13, 2012)
  • Publication Date: November 13, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0082XLSV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,929 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Campbell on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although Buddy the Rooster takes center stage in this autobiographical account of a middle-aged, set in his ways, man who, upon falling in love with a worthwhile woman (tender hearted, but strong - an interesting combination) takes a giant leap into a completely different lifestyle and often finds himself swimming in deep and confusing waters. His advent into the lives of a ready-made family is not taken to kindly by the established chicken king of the household. Buddy has never known rooster life. Hatched from an egg as a school project, he is bonded to this delightful and doting family (mother and two young girls) cross his heart and hope to die for life!

This is not a narrow book. It explores many facets, some cursorily, some in depth: the adjustments (often frustrating) from city to suburban life; from single to married life; from one-pet ownership to a multiple pet and species household, some of which the latecomer on the scene holds no great fondness for; and of course, besides the "What To Do About Buddy?" episodes (an open warfare situation since their first meeting that is never fully resolved), sudden companion and friend to two high-powered and intelligent young girls (all the females in the family love animals deeply).

Brian McGrory is at home when writing, as he has been a writer and editor for the Boston Globe since 1989--even as a child, to be a journalist was his dream and goal. His style is condensed, swift moving and infused with a sense of humor that is often hilarious. The reader, even the most humorless, will not get through this book without breaking into stitches multiple times.

And, above all, there is Buddy. His antics make one laugh, and sometimes want to cry.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To my mind, the title is a little misleading, but that did not prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Brian McGrory is a columnist for the Boston Globe. His journalistic writing style goes down easy. He understands what the people want to read, and more importantly what they don't want to read. This is a great book to settle down with (I read most of it in bed during a rainy Chicago afternoon) knowing you are in the authorly hands of someone who will not disappoint.

About the title - yes, Buddy figures prominently in the book, and I imagine the idea of a mano-a-claw showdown will entice many readers to pick it up. However, the book is not solely or even mainly about the confrontation between man and rooster. It is a book about transitions in Brian McGrory's life - from child to man, from married man to divorcee to fiance with two newly acquired daughters, from single man to family man, from condo owner to homeowner, and finally from enemy to wary coexister with one Buddy the rooster.

McGrory jumps around in time quite a bit but honestly it is not that difficult to follow. Through the years he discusses many pets. He imbues particularly the dogs with great intelligence (there is one exception) and the ability to convey a paragraph with one look. His writing is funny. I chuckled a few times and even got a couple of good laughs out of it.

More than anything this book is about belonging. Buddy arrived at about the same time McGrory was being integrated into the lives of his fiancee Pam and her daughters Abigail and Caroline. Buddy had a much easier time of it - he enjoyed unconditional love from the outset. Brian is about the only one who doesn't love Buddy. In fact, he doesn't really get Buddy.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Beth Cummings VINE VOICE on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Boston Globe" columnist, Brian McGrory, has penned a memoir that basically deals with the pets in his adult life and their influences on him. He begins with the golder retriever pup, Harry, that he buys as a Christmas surprise for his first wife. The marriage doesn't last, but McGrory and Harry are inseparable for the duration of Harry's life. It is through Harry that McCrory meets his second wife, Pam. she is Harry's veterinarian and comes with a houseful of baggage. She has two young daughters from her first marriage, a dog, two bunnies, and a rooster named Buddy that they have raised from an egg. While McCrory is grieving the loss of his dog to cancer, he is also trying to find a way to fit in with this rambunctuous family. Buddy is an unusual pet. He is very affectionate with Pam and her daughters, but seems to see McCrory as a rival and potential threat. Then he learns to crow! As McCrory develops his relationship with Pam and the girls, he has to learn to deal with the rooster.

This is a fun and funny book. Pet lovers will empathize and sympathize with Brian McCrory as he tries to get his life in order. I would recommend it to readers who enjoyed "Marley and Me" or anyone who gets a laugh out of the unexpected antics of pets.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Brian McGrory's magical love story, "Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man" made me laugh and cry. His memoir begins with the amazing life and tragic death of Harry, his beloved golden retriever, after a five-year battle with lymphoma. It's also about Brian falling in love with and marrying Pam, Harry's life-long veterinarian, and his adjustment to living in suburbia with her two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and a snow white, red-crowned rooster named Buddy. While Buddy loves the women, he takes Brian's presence as an affront and does everything he can to drive Brian away.
Brian's poetic writing beautifully captures the rooster's personality and spirit. It made me me feel as if I was there. Buddy charged and lunged at Brian whenever he came and went. Buddy would charge, and Brian would swat him with a rolled-up news paper. Buddy would stagger backward, not so much intimidated as delighted as Brain raced to freedom. Like an all star pitcher expert at changing his speed Buddy developed numerous ways to attack Brian. There was the blitz where he charged like a linebacker jacked up on steroids or he'd walk towards the deck where Brian sat making long angry, guttural sounds as he tried to extricate Brian from his privates. Brian said he was forced to roam his own homestead with a rolled-up news paper in his hand.
Brian's honesty, self reflection and ambivalence illuminates the complicated issues concerning blended families with young children and pets. Especially since he was almost fifty and had mostly lived alone in large cities.
Brian, amazingly, saw Buddy's devotion to Pam and her two girls as a role model. Like the rooster he would like to be more devoted to what he has rather than what might be missing and feel stronger and more content.
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