About Boy: Peter Mayle’s shaggy dog story

When British author Peter Mayle died on Thursday at age 78, every obituary mentioned A Year in Provence (1989), most referenced A Good Year (2004), and many even exhumed his sex education books from the 1970s (Where Did I Come From? The Facts of Life Without Any Nonsense and With Illustrations). Few noted A Dog’s Life (1995), which is one of the all-time great dog books.


Winter count 2017: A year between the covers

“What you don’t know would make a great book.” This bon mot, attributed to the English cleric and humorist—if such a being can truly exist—Sydney Smith (1771-1845), applies to perhaps no one more than our alleged president, but it is true of us all in a way. In that spirit, I came as close as... Continue Reading →

The dog who devoured Walden

“Books,” Thoreau declares in Walden, “must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.” In his puppyhood, Reese had a voracious yet discerning appetite for books. And if he could have read them as well as literally consumed them, I’m sure he would have. He shared with Thoreau a hardwired curiosity. “It is... Continue Reading →

This, too, shall (be) past

I had a great editor early in my lately comatose journalism career who loved grammar arguments. He played deaf half the time, but he could hear someone whisper “Oxford comma” from across the newsroom. The one that really stoked his ire, however, was “this past,” as in “this past weekend...” “What the hell does that... Continue Reading →

Chicken screed

“Chicken in the backyard!” Anthony blurted as he blurred by. It was not the first time this alert has been sounded, but it still took me by surprise. After all, we live in the city and do not maintain poultry. I recalled a line from an E.B. White essay, which I believe appears as both... Continue Reading →

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