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The Dog Park: A Collection of Stories with a Common Cast of Characters Paperback – July 18, 2010
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About the Author
More About the Author
Ann Elwood lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with six cats, a desert tortoise, seven box turtles, and a German shepherd, Louis, who looks something like Rin Tin Tin in his soulfulness. At night she can hear the ocean when the tides are high.
When she was a child in New Jersey, her family had a shepherd dog, Mac, who died a tragic death, shot because someone thought his foaming-at-the-mouth fear of a thunderstorm meant he had rabies.
After college, she taught elementary school for a few miserable years, then moved to Camden, New Jersey and landed a job as a typist-clerk at the Philadelpha Bulletin. When her boss discovered she had difficulty typing up circulation figures with twelve carbons, she was fired and found another job writing copy for a paternalistic insurance company that offered a low salary and delicious free lunch. One of the typesetters had the magical ability to square up a stack of paper into a perfect cube.
Eventually she moved to a studio apartment on Irving Place in New York City, and, after a few months of writing copy for a textbook company, went on to freelance as a writer of anything anyone would pay her for. In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was advertising manager for a publishing company. Then the West Coast was a mecca for writers and adventurers. Within a couple of years, she visited a Malibu beach house, fell in love (long-distance) with Bob Dylan, met Thomas Pynchon (he wouldn't remember it), and saw Hair. In 1972, she returned to freelancing. The following year she moved to Cardiff and adopted her first dog as an adult - Puppy, a mixed breed who looked something like a fox. (To show you how inappropriate Puppy's name became, she'll tell you this: Puppy died at age 17.) She wrote articles for Irving Wallace and his son, David Wallichinsky (People's Almanac and Book of Lists), and did other wonderful things she won't mention here. With Carol Orsag Madigan, she wrote several non-fiction books.
A desire to delve more deeply into ideas finally drove her to graduate school in 1981. Her dissertation focused on an order of 17th and 18th century French nuns so she had to spend a happy year in France doing research. During that year, while not in the archives, she drank local wine with fellow historians and traveled the country with Puppy, who had far less trouble than she did communicating with the French.
Now, she teaches history part-time at California State University, San Marcos, spends time with Louis and the other animals, and writes the books she has always wanted to write but never had the time for.
Top Customer Reviews
I finished this book AND then read the reviews. Thank goodness. First off, this is a work of fiction; at no point does the author hold herself out as an expert on any particular issue raised in the book. This is important to remember; this is a work of FICTION. Things that we take as fact in our every day lives doesn't have to be precise in a work of fiction. As an example: the agility training. So what if the author didn't get it absolutely correct? Is it that a big a deal or is it more important to inform readers that there is agility training and competitions? Personally, while I do know about agility training and would consider it for my pupsters if it were offered in my area, it was nice to be reminded. Based on the description provided almost anyone could set up an agility course for their pupsters; not for the purpose of competition, but to provide something as a new challenge for their own dog.
Second, each and every short story interwove and made a complete picture of the uniqueness of this particular dog park. It was not one particular point of view or one particular dog that defined (or defines) a dog park; it is the common community of the park itself. The larger story, beyond the dog park, is how we interact with each other. We really ought to take a page from our dogs.
This was a satisfying read and totally engrossing. I highly recommend this to anyone. Dog owner or not, dog lover or not, this has something to offer everyone as it reminds us that things are not always what they seem.
I am very fond of short stories, and was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I had to force myself to continue after the first story, "Embodiment", which was strange and surrealistic. Ann Elwood has her character receive "transmissions" from the dogs, enabling her to smell as they do, or see as they do. I have to admit that the stories improved after the first few. That may be a result of the "common cast of characters" which by that point are familiar to the reader.
There were some graceless turns of phrase and a particularly odious flaw in grammar: "Silence doesn't bother J.P., or I". There is no excuse for that-- any reader's ear is instantly offended.
On a positive note, I definitely became more interested in the characters as they unfolded. Ann Elwood has a surprising way of weaving the stories together which kept me wanting to know where she was leading.
I am not a dog owner and don't think you have to be one to enjoy this book.
What struck me the most as I read "The Dog Park: A Collection of Stories with a Common Cast of Characters" was that it was not at all what I expected. I expected funny little anecdotes about people and their dogs - nothing too serious, nothing too deep. Instead what I got was a group of mostly flawed characters who have one thing in common - their love of dogs.
After finishing the book, I took my two hounds out for a walk, mulling over what I would write in this review. I found myself going through the dogs in my mind and matching them up with their owners as I walked. I was able to match:
Jane and Stretch
Cara and Argus
Chase and Voltaire
Barb and Roy
Zoe and Gretel
Harvest and Aquarius
JP and Reel
Dr Tom and MacDougal
Sarah and Jax
Coyote and King
Todd and Felicity
Miguel and Bonnie
Adriana and Josef and Teddy
Olivia and Dizzy
Jasmine and Harry
I was able to do this because the characters and their dogs were very well written, making it easy for me to remember them.
Each story tugged at my heart. Old dogs, puppies, shelter dogs, and purebred dogs - all of them are represented at the dog park. Some have owners worthy of their unending devotion while some do not. But the group of people who meet every day at the dog park are all made stronger and are enriched by their dealings with each other and most importantly with their dogs.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't finished reading it yet, but so far, I'm enjoying it.
I like the interaction between dogs and people.
I usually do not read short story collections so my take on this book may be a bit skewed from the very start. Read morePublished on May 2, 2012 by NY Whitesox
As a dog lover who has never ventured into a dog park myself, I still related strongly to a majority of the short stories in this collection. Read morePublished on January 23, 2012 by bothellbuyer
Right off the top: I'm a dog lover. I train my dogs and we compete in obedience trials. I've never taken any of my dogs to a dog park, but know many people who do. Read morePublished on January 12, 2012 by Maryann Watkins
Although I enjoyed most of the short stories, the author lost me in the story involving training dog dog agility. Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by kyppster
I received this book complimentary to review. The Dog Park was a pleasant little read that I grew to like little by little. Read morePublished on July 7, 2011 by Irene A.
I received this book for free from BookRooster.com.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. Read more