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Book Review of: Bad Dog
(A Love Story)
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Bad Dog, by Martin Kihn (Hardcover, 2011)|
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Pleasantly surprising and highly entertaining.
This isn't your traditional dog story. The basic theme is that, in his quest to master his "bad dog," Marty learns to master himself. Initially, Marty views the dog as the problem. But slowly, he comes to realize Marty is the problem. In working with the dog, Hola, Marty gains insight into his own failings and what to do about them.
While the book has some grammar gaffes, the writing is clear and lively. The book is also full of information about dog training, including a sort of sampler of the various dog training systems, methods, and philosophies.
I think others may see this as a book about recovery, and I guess that's not far off the mark. But I tend to avoid that genre. What piqued my interest in this particular story was the dog angle. The jacket blurb says "a less than scrupulous breeder" sticks him with a dog that he probably should not have taken home. And that's how the story begins, with the wife (Gloria) going away and probably leaving them (Marty and Hola) forever. All because the dog is out of control.
Through Marty's eyes, this is what we see. The dog is the problem. I find this a good allegory for life in general. Something isn't right, and we see events through a lens that (mostly) excuses our own culpability while focusing on facts that lead to the (false) conclusion someone or something else is to blame.
Marty was astounded when a trainer told him that Hola was not a problem dog and was easy to train. Then she backed that up with some demonstrations. This, and other revelations, moved Marty away from the failed approach he'd been using to one that actually worked. And I don't mean just with the dog. But would he wake up in time to save his marriage? We find out in the last chapter.
While this book would make a good addition to any animal lover's collection or to the collection of someone who likes recovery stories, I'm going to recommend it as a self-improvement book. Or maybe a business book. I don't drink alcohol or hang out with folks who do, so the recovering alcoholic part didn't register with me. What did register was Marty's ability to see past his own constructions and find reality. I think all of us could benefit from doing that, every so often. For example, if your career is stalled out, going through this same process that Marty did should allow you to rev the engine again.
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About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.