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And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection,…
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And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life (edição: 2022)

de Helen Humphreys (Autor)

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536490,203 (4.03)22
"Poet and novelist Helen Humphreys's And a Dog Called Fig, a meditation on the benefits of dogs to the creative life, including the dogs of well-known writers from history, portraits of all the dogs from the author's life, and the arrival and raising of her new puppy"--
Membro:RuthanneDVogel
Título:And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life
Autores:Helen Humphreys (Autor)
Informação:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2022), 272 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life de Helen Humphreys

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In this short memoir, Helen Humphreys recounts her first months with a new puppy. This isn’t her first dog by any means, but invariably Fig’s behavior and personality are quite different from her predecessor, Charlotte. As Humphreys and Fig adapt to one another, she also notes the ways in which dogs, and the rhythm they impose on her days, have influenced her creative process. And she is not alone–the book includes anecdotes of numerous other writers known for their love of dogs.

This is light but pleasing stuff, especially if you are already a dog-lover. It also piqued my interest in reading more of Humphrey’s work. ( )
  lauralkeet | Nov 1, 2022 |
Some of the featured writer/dog stories are intriguing, as are the photographs,

But the book, along with its heavy focus on telling people how to write, actually
tells a lot more about Charlotte than Fig. Thus, the book is permeated with grief and deaths.

Daily tales of biting quickly become boring.

Why does the author never see how dangerous it is for dogs to rip apart stuffed animals?

Why does she try to teach her dogs to hunt rabbits? Are these creatures not valuable? ( )
  m.belljackson | Aug 27, 2022 |
... And a Writer Named Helen
Review of the HarperCollins Publishers hardcover edition (March 8, 2022)

I started Early - Took my Dog -
- Emily Dickinson
- epigram used for And a Dog Called Fig


I remember an elderly friend of mine telling me with great authority that when you are young, you like the bright lights and excitement of a city, but when you get older, the excitement at the bird feeder is more than enough. I laughed at the time, but I can see that the dog walk might devolve into a similar kind of contentment for me. - pg. 151 excerpt from And a Dog Called Fig


I very much enjoyed Helen Humphreys' non-fiction/fiction mashup Machine Without Horses (2018) a few years ago. So when I saw her latest non-fiction/memoir And a Dog Called Fig I snapped it up immediately. Reading it, I discovered that I had somehow missed the historical fiction Rabbit Foot Bill (2020) in the interim, so will have to catch that up.

In And a Dog Called Fig Humphreys describes her first few months with a new Vizsla puppy, especially the 'teething' pains i.e. biting. All her adult life, Humphreys has had a Vizsla as her canine companion and as she raises Fig, she also reminisces about previous dogs, esp. her favourite Charlotte. Interspersed throughout the book are anecdotes about famous writers and their dogs, usually accompanied by a black & white photograph.

See photograph at https://www.chatelaine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/b7575064440494e81b5a00865b...
Photograph of Helen Humphrey's previous dog Charlotte circa 2012. Image sourced from Chatelaine.

The book is structured in sections (titled Beginnings, Character, Structure, Process, Setting, Pacing, Endings) which describe the early life and the gradual bonding of the puppy with its human. Each of these sections also allows Humphreys to draw parallels between how she raises the dog with how she writes a book. These are often very interesting and practical tips on writing, which I think many would-be-writers would enjoy and from which they would perhaps even gain a few insider tips. Such as:

Another example of the way a dog tells us what to do with them, and if we’re paying attention and not fixated on having our way, by listening to what they’re trying to communicate, we could get along with them better. This is not dissimilar to writing, where it is more effective to listen to intuition instead of trying to force your will upon a piece of work. - excerpt from pgs. 183-184 about SETTING from And a Dog Called Fig


Pacing in a book is what moves the story along. In poetry, I learned that a line will carry the rhythm of the body and will break where the poet takes a breath. Prose doesn’t have the same parameters as poetry, but I believe that its lines also echo the rhythm of the writer and that the metre of the prose holds within it the breath and heartbeat of the writer. That becomes the natural pacing of a story, and sometimes that is adequate, just to go with how a narrative moves organically. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to manipulate the prose, to alter the pacing. If a story is without much action or drama, a writer can speed up the pacing to give the narrative more tension and urgency, to literally make it go faster. This is done by shortening the sentences, chopping things up, rushing the rhythm along. This can also be done by cutting out some of the linkages. A writer once told me to delete every third sentence, as this will remove some of the natural transitions and enliven the language. Though it seems an odd thing to do, it actually works surprisingly well. - pg. 200 excerpt about PACING from And a Dog Called Fig


I enjoyed And a Dog Called Fig immensely and I think fans of books and writers and dogs will also have the same reaction.

Other Reviews
Pick of the Litter by Michael Strizic, Literary Review of Canada, June 2022.

Trivia
I don't know if this list covers all of the writers and dogs mentioned, but based mostly on the photographs alone they were: Virginia Woolf and Grizzle, Thomas Hardy and Wessex, E.B. White and Minnie, James Thurber and Muggs, Gertrude Stein and Basket, Maurice Sendak and Herman, Emily Bronte and Keeper, Zora Neale Hurston and Shag & Spot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Flush, Emily Dickinson and Carlo, Mary Oliver and Percy, Anton Chekhov and Khina, Alexander Pope and Bounce, Margaret Wise Brown and Crispin's Crispian, Agatha Christie and Peter, J.R. Ackerley and Queenie, Alice Walker and Miles. ( )
  alanteder | Jun 10, 2022 |
I loved this book as I do all of HH's books. It was a gobble, a little book to hold in your hands and short and lovely. It is a book about dogs, about getting a new puppy and about remembering previous dogs in our lives. It is a love story and part memoir! It is also a book about writing and the experience of other writers having dogs and the meaning in life they provide. It is about the central and huge hook of nature and what it means for us. Wow, what a wonderful book! ( )
  mdoris | Jun 9, 2022 |
The bond between a human and a dog can be deep and long lasting. And given the relatively short lifespan of dogs, there is every chance that numerous iterations, with variation, between the human and other dogs will recur. And so a life, a human life, can often be told as the story of a series of very special dog companions. Helen Humphreys has had bonds with dogs throughout her life. With them she has experienced joys and overcome grief and marvelled at the world made new on each early morning walk together. Here she chronicles the first few months of shared life with her dog Fig, who came to her while she was still in mourning for her previous dog, Charlotte. Fig is feisty, and bitey, and not at all like Charlotte. And learning to accept that difference and embrace it seems a worthy lesson even in later life.

Accompanying the diary-like entries on Fig are broader ruminations on Humphrey’s life, in particular her life as a writer. We learn a fair bit about her writing method and also are introduced to famous writers who themselves formed close bonds with canine companions. The various elements illuminate each other and work toward a common end. Fortunately, Humphreys is both a thoughtful and experienced writer, so the structure never feels contrived and it all reads quickly and with a certain narrative arc. It’s not perfect (maybe one more edit would have removed some retreading late in the book) but it’s very enjoyable, though perhaps you have to already like dogs to find it truly engaging. I liked it.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Apr 20, 2022 |
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"Poet and novelist Helen Humphreys's And a Dog Called Fig, a meditation on the benefits of dogs to the creative life, including the dogs of well-known writers from history, portraits of all the dogs from the author's life, and the arrival and raising of her new puppy"--

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