22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
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. I chose to read this book because I wanted to know what a rooster is like, never having had the opportunity to meet one. Besides being exceedingly handsome, I find something heroic in this brave rooster that stands his ground even when being threatened by stronger and bigger animals. He's Okay (with a capital "O") and the hope is that Buddy and the author will call a truce to their rivalry and become the recipients of each other's love.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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. But he does get that Buddy probably holds the key to acceptance by Abigail and Caroline, somewhere in his little chicken brain.
I don't want to give away too much plot, so I will just say that Brian McGrory seems to be a really likeable guy. This book is way more than a funny story. He is really trying to come to terms with all the changes that have brought him to this point. It's an easy read and a rewarding one. Recommended.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
"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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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.
But Brian also wrote, "My God, the chores." In addition to full time jobs they started first thing in the morning. Brian walked the dog, emptied the trash twice a day, watered the shrubs, picked up litter and swept the porches. And whatever he did, Pam did three times as much, laundry, school lunches, snacks, dinners, feed animals and empty the litter box and dishwasher. Where were the children? Shouldn't parental sacrifice have limits? It would be great to read a sequel by Brian where the family is more a democratic team when it comes to household chores and outings. Brian is on the right track when he bemoans how kids are given sizable houses, every toy they momentarily desire, vacations to exotic places and luxury resorts. He said, "Hope, ambition, gratitude and wonder lose proportion when you have so much so young." Parental concerns about children living with divorce frequently result in catering to their offspring's every whim.
I loved this book and did not want it to end.
Brian McGrory is an award-winning journalist who has been a writer and editor for the Boston Globe since 1989. He is the author of four novels.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The title of Brian McGrory's memoir is a bit misleading, yet I couldn't help but be thoroughly absorbed and entertained by it. Visions of Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan and Dewey the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron danced in my head. While the dog/cat stories have become de rigeur, a memoir featuring Buddy, the Rooster is certainly unchartered terrain in the memoir world, and could provide a whole new set of anecdotes.
Although named for Buddy, this rooster is not really the primary focus of this book. McGrory's memoir chronicles the author's life from his childhood to his failed first marriage and his beloved dog. Now McGrory is embarking on a new phase of his life - moving to the suburbs, getting married and becoming a step-father. In addition to these not inconsequential changes, McGrory also becomes the co-owner of several pets- including Buddy the Rooster.
McGrory's fiancee and daughters love Buddy, he is not nearly as enamored of this pet, who truly believes he rules the roost. While there are a few anecdotes about Buddy - how McGrory must clear the snow so that Buddy can walk to his rooster shed without getting his feet or feathers wet, for example-there are more anecdotes about McGrory's first dog and his new life - as well as his surprise at nearing his fiftieth birthday and finally settling down into the traditional lifestyle he had managed to avoid for so long.
Buddy is a book that will appeal to a wide audience and readers will appreciate McGrory's easily readable and entertaining writing style.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I've read quite a few of these "my life with chicken" memoirs and have enjoyed most. Usually they involve the chicken. This one mostly involves dogs and an egocentric journalist. We don't really even get to the chicken until almost 100 pages. What should be the bulk of the book (based on the targeting) about the rooster and the author facing up against each other is summed up in about four pages. His trip to get American Girl Dolls takes six. This book is really just a memoir that happens to have a chicken in it.
I am, obviously, put out about that given the prominence of the rooster on the cover, in the title and flap copy but even if this were marketed correctly as a straight memoir, it would still be hard to like since the author comes across as a self-centered jerk. He's constantly bemoaning his "past life" in the city before he married his (probably not for long) current wife and moved to the suburbs. He makes so many references to how "tired" or "exhausted" his wife looks you wonder if maybe she's got chronic fatigue syndrome and no one noticed. He throws both her kids and their "suburban lifestyle" under the bus a million times. He talks about his not-yet wife carrying heavy loads of laundry upstairs, making lunches and snacks, cooking dinner - and never offers to help this allegedly exhausted woman who can't even stay awake past her kids' bedtime while he hops in his car to get back to his apartment where he can relax and eat ice cream. At one point my reading notes read "If my husband seemed as put out about the transition from "me" to "we" as this guy, I'd be TRAINING the rooster to attack him. This isn't an "honest" look at a relationship, it's a slap in the face to his wife and her kids and it makes him sound like a 13 year old. On the back of my ARC it reads "Will Brian learn the secret to family harmony or find himself packing?" - for the love of God, Pam, send him packing."
I stand by that thought. Although I'm not a fan of the wife, either. She is obviously only letting this seriously flawed human hang around for the same reason she let this poor rooster hang around - she feels sorry for him. I know it's the author putting forth the views, and he isn't flattering about his wife on any other front, but the woman is a vet and yet she thinks she can ride a chicken around in a car, take him on vacation and feed him cheese and chicken nuggets with oatmeal and corn. (For those of you who really don't know - chickens should not eat chicken. Or cheese.)
The author mostly talks about how much he loves his single life in the city and HIS dogs - yes even the wife's DOG bugs this guy who proclaims to adore dogs - so perhaps this would be a good book for Marley and Me fans - but probably not.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book! I didn't want to put it down, not because I wanted to see how it ended, but because each page was so very entertaining! Mr. McGrory had me laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page. He has such a wonderful sense of humor, loves his family so very much, and is able to learn positive lessons from very unlikely sources. All animal lovers, people about to get married, step parents and veterinarians need to read this book. It starts with the beautiful story of Brian McGrory and a very special dog named Harry, and ends with an equally special rooster named Buddy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Author Brian McGrory tells about his domestication from urban reporter to suburban dad in his book Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man.
McGrory starts his tale telling about his beloved dog, Harry, who he purchased as a Christmas present for his first wife and himself. The marriage ended and McGrory and Harry spent their days living in Boston. It was through Harry that McGrory met Pam and the rest they say is history. McGrory moved out of Boston and into the family home of Pam where he met and often "argued" with Buddy.
In the end, Buddy, a humble rooster, taught McGrory some essential truths:
"That damn bird couldn't be any happier about his place in the world. He had his house. He has his yard. He had his family. He didn't give a flying crow what was happening on the other side of the (expensive) fence, unless he thought it was somehow going to interfere with life within in his yard. Much as I hated to admit it, Buddy basically had it all figured out."
The author then writes:
"How do you do it? I asked him. 'How are you so content here?' Please accept that I am talking to a rooster in the wind-whipped dark of a cold winter's night, I understood that I had completely lost my mind."
The book is funny while telling the essential truths of living. Buddy was one smart bird to find such a smart family.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Okay, so here's the thing: It feels like what the author really wanted to write was a story about the love between man and dog... but it needed a more original hook, so he wove the tale around a rooster and family life instead.
The rooster is annoying as all get-out. And the author's fiance (wife? I don't remember them actually getting married) seems to love the rooster more than she loves Brian. But maybe that's okay, because I'm pretty sure Brian loved his dog more than he loved Pam, too.
Then there are Pam's two bratty, entitled kids, who routinely ignore Brian unless they want something from him. And Pam makes excuses for them and apparently never tells them they need to be decent to this man who is trying so hard to bond with them.
All throughout, I felt like Pam-- who he regularly describes as exhausted, sweaty, never wearing anything but scrubs, etc.-- had no real love for Brian except for the fact that she saw him as a fellow animal lover. She used him, rode over his feelings, and literally chose a rooster who attacked him, pooped all over their house, awoke them regularly at dawn, etc.-- over this man who was dedicating his life to her. She expects him to cater to her kids' every whim and put up with everything she wants while she coos over "poor, handsome Boo-Boo," her nickname for the emotionally fragile rooster.
The author is a good writer. There are many amusing moments, and many clever turns of phrase. But I kept waiting for the feel-good part... the ending where he really IS happy in the suburbs, and the kids come around and accept him, and Pam shows him that he's more important than a damn rooster. That never happens, except for brief moments here and there. At the end, he's still feeling like an errand boy, like he doesn't belong in this new life, like he's unwanted and out of place. I read this with the absolute feeling that they're headed for divorce, if they ever actually got married.
I also didn't buy at ALL the soliloquy at the end where he purportedly has a full-on heart-to-heart conversation out loud with the rooster.
I believe that the author intended to write a story about how happy he is to now be a family man, but the truth got in the way. He IS out of place with these people, in this house. I'm frustrated on his behalf. He never puts his foot down and insists that this ridiculous rooster has to go-- or at least not live INSIDE the house, pooping all over the place and shrieking while he's trying to work or relax. Instead, he continues living in a petting zoo, caving in whenever the kids want anything despite their marked lack of appreciation... sigh. I'm getting worked up just writing about it! It's not right, and I couldn't just let it go and pretend this was a light-hearted story with a happy ending. It really wasn't.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2012
I got a review copy of this book and was very excited to read it. I liked it well enough to finish it but was happy when it was over. McGrory writes well, I'll say that for him. But what a wimp! He lets everyone trample all over him and he is constantly whining about how his life is turned upside down by his choice to move to suburbia with his fiancee, her two young daughters and their menagerie. You have to wonder why on earth this guy puts up with being attacked and terrorized by Buddy the rooster and puts up with so little love, affection or sympathy from his what-does-he-see-in-her girlfriend and the spoiled brat daughters. The story he tells about going to get two of the latest American Girl dolls (plus two extra outfits each) days after Christmas should make him hang his head in shame, not only because he enabled such offensive materialism and entitlement but because he was such a weenie about it - he didn't want to go, but he did and for what? UGH! And what a martyr he was when he shoveled all that snow, got NO appreciation for it, then although he was exhausted he took over the shoveling to the rooster's palace. Again, with no appreciation or acknowledgment. McGrory fails to describe enough good things about what he LIKES about his fiancee to make me understand why he would put up with all the things he put up with. Seems to me everyone would be way better off if he'd move back to an apartment in the city. I hated Buddy, I hated the fiance, I hated the girls and the way they were being raised and the way they were allowed to act, I hated how whiney, petulant, wimpy and powerless McGrory shows himself to be. Very unattractive.