Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Animal I Have Become: A Memoir

People are suckers for great animal stories. Let's face it, when it comes to movies, there are millions-- Old Yeller, Free Willy, Homeward Bound, and the list goes on endlessly. But what about books? There are a lot of them that go unnoticed, and maybe some that you've heard of.  For example, Marley & Me by John Grogan, has gained a lot of popularity for its portrayal of a neurotic trouble-maker lab who, despite his bad behavior finds his niche in a family.  The nice thing about stories like this is the way the story of the animal entwine with the story of the person writing the memoir. Animals have an extraordinary way of making people rethink their own lives, and many of these memoirs reflect that. But the greatest thing about animals and their stories, is that besides being insightful to our own human nature, they are hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Now if only the zookeeper that had raised Knut the baby polar bear was still alive to write one today...
Marley & Me by John Grogan (2005)
As described above, the story of a family with an awesomely destructive dog. Funny at times, sad at times, winds the story of Marley in with the obstacles that the family must overcome.
The Dogs Who Found Me: What I've Learned From Pets Who Were Left Behind
  by Ken Foster (2006)
The author finds and adopts dogs who have been discarded by society. He writes, "I adopted Brando not because I was worried he might be put to sleep, but because after several days of visiting him I couldn't stand the idea of him living with someone other than me...Within a few days I had developed a feverish dog-crush." Funny.
Wally's World: Life with Wally the Wonder Dog by Marsha Boulton (2006)
A great story about a woman, her husband, and their bull terrier who share a wonderful zest for life.  Her writing is superb and funny, and just the first page will draw you in.
The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson (2009)
The memoir of a father who discovers that his autistic son Rowan's condition improves after an interaction with the neighbor's horse, and from there, the family embarks on an adventure to the steppe of Mongolia to cure his son through shamanic healing and horses.

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper (2009)
A memoir about a woman who takes the blind kitten home from the shelter, and aptly names him Homer (the title sparked my interest in this book, naturally). Although blind, Homer's very adept and courageous, with a very lovable personality. 

Dewey: the Small-town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron 
Dewey was discovered by a librarian (the author) half-frozen in the library drop-box. After he was rescued, he was adopted as the resident mascot of the library, and makes dozens of friends in his hometown in Iowa.  Again, with the clever naming!

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl  by Stacey O'Brien (2008)
When, Stacey O'Brien first takes in the four-day-old barn owlet, she couldn't know that it would be his love and fierce loyalty that would help her overcome her own illness.  Now only if it also delivered mail to the magical world...

The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood
  by Sy Montgomery (2007)
The autobiography of a woman, who as a naturalist, has always been comfortable around animals and being on-the-go. But after taking in a small, sick piglet, who grows to be the 750-lb Christopher Hogwood, she is forcibly grounded. Mr. Hogwood, however, becomes a neighborhood favorite, and teaches the author about the community all around her.

Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human by Elizabeth Hess (2008)
Raising Nim Chimpsky, and teaching the chimp American Sign Language, was an experiment that meant to refute Noam Chomsky's theory that language is an exclusively human trait. What starts as an experiment turns into an introspective and funny look at what makes us human.  Plus, with a take off of Noam Chomsky's name like this, you know it's gotta be good.

The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming
by Shreve Stockton (2008)
 The story of a photographer who moves to a small town in Wyoming from New York, and winds up taking in an orphaned coyote pup. She learns to adapt to her new lifestyle and new pet, whom she names Charlie. It explores the differences between nature and nurture, and domestication and wildness.

Rascal  by Sterling North(1663)
Somewhat older than the others, Rascal is a story about a boy's adventures with his pet raccoon in a small town in Wisconsin at the end of World War I. I've always wondered what it would be like to keep a wild thing for a pet. It's too bad Dad always told me no...


No comments:

Post a Comment