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A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Hardcover – August 25, 2009
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About the Author
Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition when he was a senior in college, and he's been writing ever since. He has sold more than 375,000,000 copies of his books, in 38 languages. Dean lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, and their new dog, Anna.
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I admit I haven't read Dean Koontz in ages. When I was a kid, I liked his suspense and horror books well enough, but we parted ways right around when I went to college.
Since then, we'd been strangers. Life got in the way, the normal business of making money that's already been long-since relegated to one bill or another.
Last summer my dog died. Not just any dog, but my spirit animal, my totem. She was the best and most beautiful dog I ever knew, my business partner in my animal behavior consulting business. She was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma after an emergency splenectomy. She, my robust warrior princess, succumbed just weeks after her surgery and a few days after her 10th birthday. The loss of her knocked the wind and all the joy right out of me. I couldn't believe it - she'd been so healthy her whole life and then she was...gone.
I don't remember how I came across this book - I think it was a GoodReads suggestion. Wherever I learned of it, I can only say that It came into my life just when I needed a read exactly this wonderful.
A Big Little Life is a gorgeous book. I laughcried throughout most of it. It is such a stunning tribute to a beautiful dog, a great friendship, and a life well lived. It ranks up there with some of the top dog books I've read (and I'm no slouch - I have two floor-to-ceiling bookcases dedicated to dog books alone) and is one I look forwarded to reading again someday, after my heart has healed a little further. This takes the number one slot in the "dog tribute" subgenre of dog books.
This is a book for dog lovers, written by a man who very obviously loved Trixie a great deal.
RECOMMENDED PAIRING: hot tea, rainy day, snuggled under some blankets on the couch next to one or more of your favorite dogs.
A BIG LITTLE LIFE is a very spiritual memoir, and Koontz is clear that he saw Trixie as an angel (in the overarching, grandly sacred sense). One of Koontz's acquaintances referred to Trixie as a "holy soul," and that is just the way Koontz portrays her. In the memoir he describes incident after incident that reveals Trixie as an amazingly special being, with the ability to connect with the humans in her world, to differentiate between good and evil, and to see beyond the mundane. Whether or not you believe the stories Koontz tells, it's impossible to read this book and not feel the impact of this dog on the lives of her human owners.
I've read most of Koontz's novels - I have always found them to be both frightening and uplifting in their affirmation of the human spirit. Even his most disturbing novels (like INTENSITY) contain within them an element of hope that leaves the reader profoundly touched. My favorite Koontz novel has always been WATCHERS, in which a wonderful golden retriever named Einstein leads her human companions out of the darkness. That this novel was written over ten years before Koontz acquired his own wonderful golden is amazing!
Read A BIG LITTLE LIFE - it will move you in unexpected ways. Even if you're not a dog lover, you can't help but be inspired by this animal's impact on the humans in her life. Koontz writes, "We are a community of potential saints with a shared destiny, and each of us is a thread in a tapestry of meaning." Trixie is the one who helped Koontz see this and live this - and in that alone she was an angel. This is a lovely tribute to a very special dog.
We've now been owned by 4 Golden Retrievers, and this book put our love for them into words we couldn't express ourselves but definitely felt. Thank you!
From the mundane, to the hilarious, and the frightening, and finally the sad - Mr. Koontz gives us fodder for our mental and spiritual gristmills, while letting our hearts swell and soar with joy.
Read this book. You will be grateful.