Tag Archives: dogs

The Dog Park by Ann Elwood

The Dog Park by Ann Elwood: This collection of short stories revolves around the regulars at a dog park in southern California. I will say up front that I do not own a dog and have never been to a dog park, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the setting. However, I don’t think you really need to be a “dog person” to understand or appreciate these stories. Many of the tales are about human drama, though of course dogs play a central role in every one. One thing I noticed was how bittersweet or even downright sad most of the stories were. I even shed a few tears during “Not Just a Dog.” The plots are well-constructed and the characters believable, but don’t expect a bunch of heart-warming doggy stories. Very few have what I would consider happy endings. All, however, do have reasonably satisfying endings, and that’s all I really ask of a story. I remain interested in reading more fiction from Elwood in the future. Maybe she should release a tortoise collection next. I bet she could do that well.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star by Ann Elwood

Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star by Ann Elwood: Before reading this book, I knew basically nothing about the original Rin-Tin-Tin, a German shepherd dog who starred in a number of silent films (and few talkies) in the 1920s and 30s. This is not the Rin-Tin-Tin of the famous 1950s television series, nor the considerably less famous early 1990s television series, but rather their predecessor. From his storied (and probably false) origins in war-torn France through his death and legacy, this meticulously researched examination of the first real (canine) movie star leaves no stone unturned. I was less interested in the plots of the films than in the society in which Rin-Tin-Tin lived, this little pocket between World War I and the Great Depression. The ASPCA was just starting to gain mainstream political clout, the first talkies were released, and journalistic integrity was still evidently largely unknown. (Seriously, the number of conflicting newspaper reports cited got a bit silly after a while.) It helps that I have a weird fascination with the turn of the 20th century to begin with, but even so, I found this study of one of the most famous non-human actors in history to be surprisingly engaging. If you are a dog-lover or have an interest in early film history, consider picking this one up.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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