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Nose Down, Eyes Up: A Novel Hardcover – December 30, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jimmy, the canine star of Merrill's second fun-loving doggie novel (after Walking in Circles Before Lying Down), is the Tony Robbins of the dog world and holds informal seminars with the neighborhood dogs to instruct them in the art of manipulating their human masters (the key, he intones, is nose down, eyes up). Jimmy's poochly wisdom—spot-on and hilarious throughout—is made available courtesy of his owner, Gil, an unlucky in love handyman who learns how to communicate with dogs. This launches the novel's plot, as Gil shoots down Jimmy's idea that he is Gil's biological son. Soon, Jimmy is intent on meeting his birth mother, who happens to belong to Gil's now-remarried ex-wife. A series of setbacks beset the duo, and the tribulations provide lessons in life, love and finding happiness. The conversations with the wry, wise and lovable Jimmy (and his three other oddball dog pals) comprise the novel's heart and comedic through-line—discourse ranges from business matters to why dogs pee so many times during walks. Markoe's hilarious dialogue should be a must-read for dog lovers. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Gil is a bit of a schlub. Nearing 50, he lives rent-free as a handyman in an elderly couple’s Los Angeles vacation home. His girlfriend, Sara, works as an animal communicator. Consequently, he can now understand all four of his dogs and is surprised to discover that the alpha dog, Jimmy, has been giving informative lectures to the neighborhood dogs about such topics as begging faces, edible shoes, and peeing inside versus outside. A chance meeting with Gil’s ex leads to his accepting a job remodeling her guesthouse, and Jimmy begs to be brought along. Soon Gil finds himself moving uncomfortably closer to his ex and further away from Jimmy, and it’s only when things get rough that Gil and Jimmy begin to reconsider the meaning of family. Markoe’s satire is right-on, even if, as often happens in real life, the dogs are more interesting than their owners. Dog-crazy or otherwise, every reader will find much to contemplate and laugh at in this story about human and animal nature, furry or not. --Hilary Hatton
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345500202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345500205
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Goff on January 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Merrill Markoe is one of my favorite authors, so I make it a point to buy all of her books, read them and recommend them to friends. Do you ever wonder what dogs are actually thinking? Well, as the owner of 2 rescued dogs, I often wish I could read their minds. Reading Nose Down, Eyes Up and her previous novel, Walking in Circles Before Lying Down, may be the closest I'll ever get to reading my dogs' minds. Actually, I'm sure Merrill's dialogue is way funnier than anything my dogs could come up with. And she weaves this creative doggie dialogue into a fiction story that held my attention from the first page to the last.
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Format: Paperback
When Gil stumbles upon his alpha dachshund Jimmy lecturing the neighborhood dogs on canine manipulation techniques, his life is profoundly changed. That is, if you consider Gil's first instinct to exploit his newfound knowledge by starting a pet blog to kick-off the sale of silk-screened T-shirts a profound revelation. The only redeeming quality about 47-year-old, bitterly divorced, layabout Gil is that he understands his dogs far better than the women in his life. If not for the laugh-out-loud dialogue between Gil and his four dogs, Jimmy, Cheney, Fruity, and Dinky, this book would possess little redeeming value.

As an animal lover and a dog owner, I found the first section of the book containing the interaction between Gil and his dogs both heartwarming and hilarious. I laughed out loud during several moments. But then, illustrating a dog's personality is going to be humorous no matter how you write it. However, despite the truly enjoyable first part of the book, including such memorable pearls of canine wisdom as "Is it pee inside, poo inside?" and "Everything can be eaten", the story suffers from an unfortunate overload of dislikable, shallow, greedy, and selfish cast of human characters that sour the latter plot, which focuses more heavily on human than canine antics--predictably Gil's trouble with women.

Drama starts when Gil accidentally runs into his sexy ex-wife at a convenient store while collecting a six-pack for beer-thirty--a longtime tradition for the lately-out-of-work, blue-collar handyman who conveniently lives in the empty summerhouse of rich retirees in exchange for household maintenance.
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I was enjoying this book when I ran across the C word and thought, 'Well, he's losing a star in my review over this!' because the profanity which is so derogatory to women was just so unnecessary. I loved the plot, totally became fond of the jerk of a main character and didn't really want to put the book down, it was so good. But now I couldn't pass it on to my kids because of the profanity and, ironically I had just had my teenage daughter mention to me how common it's becoming for young people to use that particular once-upon-a-time-taboo word these days. Having grown up in the generation that made the F word part of everyday speech, I really didn't want to promote such casual use of an even worse word in an otherwise fine book. I assumed that the shallow main character named Gil (shallow except for his relationships with his dogs) WAS the author (egotistically and easily writing about himself ). He DID nail dog personalities beautifully, especially the hyper rescue dog so similar to one I have at home. And he certainly KNEW what kind of man he was. Nicely introspective for such an otherwise lame excuse of a guy. And I did notice that the author/Gil never used that crass term more than once, which I thought was curious -- but STILL -- the guy who wrote this great little book needed to understand that the use of the C word is not okay. It's sexist to the max! Please! I galloped through the rest of the book, sorry it was over, satisfied with the ending, thinking a sequel would be nice - and then saw that the Merrill who is the author is not like the one Merrill I have known. Merrill was a woman, not a man! A woman who had written her main character so authentically that it was an actual shock to find out her gender. Hmm. And she had only used the C word once. Enough to rile the s___ out of me.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I thought that this would be a wonderful story about Jimmy, an alpha dog in a household of four dogs, realizing that his human guardian isn't his birth-father after all, and then expressing his desire to meet his birth family. Yes, that's part of it, but I really should've read between the lines in the summary: "At forty-seven, Gil [the dogs' human guardian] is the world's oldest twenty-two year old..." This hint, and a houseful of four "guys" and a "girl" (one of the four dogs is female) should've led me to expect the "fraternity house" behavior in this book. But I didn't expect the bad behavior to be that bad or that frequent.

This could have been a wonderful, beautiful, story had there been less foul language, drinking (and constant exclamations of "Beer Thirty!"), sexuality, and sexual/bathroom references (The little female dog in the household can't seem to understand to ask to go outside when she needs to.). Also, Gil's ex-wife seems to be the "stock" ex-wife -- a "Barbie-doll" beauty, greedy, and thinking only of herself.

I can see the potential for Markoe to write something better, but "Noses Down" is not the one.
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