Magazine article American Libraries

Rousing Reads: The Grief and Joy of Man's Best Friend

Magazine article American Libraries

Rousing Reads: The Grief and Joy of Man's Best Friend

Article excerpt

I have no beef against dogs, but I'm not a fan of dog books: too smarmy (especially when the damn dogs talk) and way too heartbreaking when the damn dogs die. That all changes, however, when it's E. B. White writing about dogs. Or anything else, for that matter. I love his children's books, of course, but most of all I admire his essays, especially the longer ones he wrote for Harper's in a column called One Man's Meat and the shorter Talk of the Town and Comment pieces he did for the New Yorker over many decades. Trying to analyze White's prose style is a sucker's game. I'll say only that his sentences are things of quiet, unassuming beauty, pristine in their simplicity, a parade of subjects, verbs, and objects swaying in perfect rhythm.

Dogs were one of White's favorite subjects. He shared his life with multiple breeds over the years (but always with a special fondness for dachshunds), and he wrote about dogs with great respect (and a firm conviction that they look upon their human companions with a mixture of tolerance and weary disdain). So when a book called E. B. White on Dogs landed on my desk the other day, I naturally grabbed it immediately. Edited by White's granddaughter, Martha, the collection brings together essays, short comments, and letters in which dogs play a role.

Perhaps White's two most "famous" dogs were Daisy, a Scottie who spent her life in Manhattan, and the inimitable Fred, a dachshund who went from city dog to country dog when the Whites moved to Maine. …

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