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Dreaming in Libro: How A Good Dog Tamed A Bad Woman Hardcover – June 11, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This sweet sequel to Bark if You Love Me, in which Bernikow first introduced her beloved brown boxer, Libro (adopted in the late '90s after he was rescued by the police), relates their subsequent adventures living in Manhattan. Libro relished apartment life even in a five-floor walkup, making friends with the neighbors (it takes a building to raise a dog) and endearing himself to Bernikow's friends. So urban was Libro that he had difficulty adjusting to a month's vacation in the Hamptons and refused to go in the water. Although clearly smitten with her dog, Bernikow leavens her adoration with references to literary figures and their pets, such as Virginia Woolf's Pinka and Emily Brontë's Keeper. She also delivers a humorous account of the book tour for Bark if You Love Me, which included paw stamping by Libro as well as autographing by Bernikow at bookstores. But Bernikow's bout with cancer, during which Libro barely left her side, was followed by the dog's own diagnosis with a tumor soon after his ninth birthday,. Bernikow describes her intense pain after losing her beloved companion, which she marked with a postmortem party for friends and admirers. (June 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Bernikow was an urban sophisticate who knew what she needed, and those needs did not include any nonhumans. Little did she know that her world would shift when she observed a crowd gathered around a police car. When she made eye contact with the car's occupant, a brown boxer with amber eyes, the dog came home with her. Clearly a city dog, Libro understood cars, apartment life, and Spanish—he got his name when on his first day with her, the author warned him away from her books, in Spanish. She discovered that the anonymity that New Yorkers prize goes out the window when you are accompanied by a dog, but that same dog also generates the freedom to explore the good and not-so-good areas of the city, day or night. Libro opened the author's heart, prompted her into endearments she previously rolled her eyes at, and became her significant other. And finally, he helped the author and other shell-shocked survivors of 9/11 by becoming a therapy dog. Will touch the heart. Bent, Nancy
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Louise Bernikow was, when I was hanging out with her some decades ago, very much not a "dog person". A noted journalist and feminist historian, she was the fiercest woman I knew in New York: annoyingly smart, achingly attractive, a bachelorette to the death.
And that wasn't just my take.
Louise Bernikow would be the first to tell you that she has done her share of dancing on tables. She has kissed a date good night --- and raced out for a nightcap with his brother. And in the days when she owned a car, she writes, "I carried a nightgown, birth control and my passport in the trunk... ready to leave for Paris at a moment's notice."
But as she was jogging in Riverside Park one spring afternoon, she spotted a crowd. In its center, a police car. And, in the back seat, the cause of the fuss: a purebred boxed with a stumpy tail and "those eyes".
Inexplicably, she took him home.
Louise and Libro's "getting to know you" period is described in her first "dog" book, 'Bark If You Love Me. I did not read it for the simple fact that I could not believe Louise wrote it. Friends told me how charming it was, how well written, how very Louise; nothing would lure me.
Now Louise Bernikow has a second "dog" memoir. Again, friends banged on about it. This time, the combination of an appealing subtitle and personal nostalgia got me to peek inside. Great first sentence: "My mother always told me I would grow into my feet and my nose." And the "how we met" story wasn't bad. Before I knew it, I was reading --- and I was appalled.
Here is Louise, padding around on all fours beside her dog ("partly for knowledge of his spatial perspective").
Here is Louise, babbling to her dog "like an infatuated nincompoop."
Here is Louise, once capable of leaving her apartment and not coming home for days, now rushing home at Swiss-watch intervals and climbing four flights of stairs to feed and walk her dog.
As I say, appalling.
But also, here is Louise jabbing me in the eye with perceptions that dog owners have never shared with me. "Perhaps what animal lovers really love is access to their own tenderness," she writes. And: "Just because a man is nice to his dog doesn't mean he is a nice man."
As I kept reading, the ratio of treacle to smart changed. Smart won, paw's down. Because although it seemed like madness for Louise to treat Libro as if he were human, Libro was clearly an advanced being --- Louie's personal guru, as it turns out.
There are wonderful chapters here: Louise's book tour in California, Libro in tow, is a hoot, and lucky are those who showed up at bookstores to catch their double act. And there is something charming about a woman who relaxes her search for love with a man because she's already found it with a dog.
One argument about pets is that you are likely to survive them --- and then you have to deal with the grief. Not so fast, in this case. Louise gets cancer, and this time, it's the dog who/that has to adjust. And then, later.....
But I don't want to suggest that this is the 'Death Be Not Proud' of the canine brigade. `Dreaming in Libro' is, for most of its breezy, 202 pages, an unleashed romp in the park. Dog lovers who read it will be nodding like bobbleheads. Cat lovers will be jealous as...oh...cats.
There are not many books that you read and then rush to read aloud to someone else because they are so funny. This book is full of such moments. (Yes, I did read bits aloud to humans, as well). I won't spoil the reading by my telling--I hate reviews like that. I will say the two things I love about this book: the writing--it is wonderful, witty, and winsome--and the dogs. Libro is a Buddha in brindle coat. And of course my own pooches, spotted Buddhas who watch over me, one from the other side and one from my bed side (when he's not sneaking into it!).
Now I have thought of a third thing I love--the relationship between author and dog, writer and muse, human and canine friends. Parts of DREAMING IN LIBRO remind me of A Kinship With Life, that well read tome from the 1930s that documents communicating with animals, especially the dog star, Strongheart. Without even knowing what she is doing Bernikow develops a relationship with Libro that is equal--partners--not owner or master and inferior beast. As dog lovers everywhere know, we are the inferior beasts.
It's a beach book, a bedtime book, a gift book, a read to your dog aloud book--what more could one want? If only Libro had liked cats, it would also be a cat lover book. If I say more I will start quoting my favorite parts and that will ruin all your fun, so buy this book for a friend, a lover, a dog.
Having to come home from the movies earlier, leaving a holiday gathering to check on Libro, the daily routine, and the care and true concern she shows as his "guardian" is heartwarming.
I have two dogs that I absolutely adore. It is a wonder, the things they do, and how they fit into your life. It is very rewarding to read how it is for someone else too.
I enjoyed this book, and if you have a sweet relationship with a canine, you would probably like it too.
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Still waiting for Bark if you love me by same author, Louise Bernikow.Read more