Looking for your next read? Check out The Speckled Beauty by Rick Bragg, reviewed by Fulco Library staff, Mary I.
I am not typically a reader of “dog stories,” but when I saw this new book by one of my favorite Southern writers sitting on the library’s shelves I grabbed it and started reading before I even made it back to my desk. Bragg has a gift for capturing the people and in this case, the animals, that make up his family orbit with a distinct voice, dry humor, and true sense of loyalty. He is a real storyteller. And the story of this no good, beat up, worn out, can’t-be-tamed, wild and broken and beautiful creature (who may have just rolled in a dead carcass or donkey poop) provides many a tale to tell.
But the real magic of this particular story between a man and his dog is the timing of the thing. Speck was a stray wandering and fighting with a wild pack who eventually made it to Bragg’s family farm, separated from the rest, and decided to stick around. He was injured, weak, and sick. Bragg at the time was dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the ravages of chemo, and recurring pneumonia. He too was injured, weak, and sick. But Speck’s antics and adventures, his howling at the moon, attacking any and all delivery drivers, and waiting for biscuits from Bragg’s eighty-year-old Mama as he obediently follows her around the kitchen, helped Bragg to put his melancholy aside. In taking care of each other, they were both able to heal. However, as the author states “this did not mean I was his master, merely his alibi, coconspirator, bailsman, and the driver of his ambulance.” In other words, family.
There are a lot of reasons to laugh out loud while reading this book, and also moments of tearful tenderness. If you are familiar with his work you’ll know this to be true before you even crack it open. But even if you aren’t, and even if you think you don’t like “dog stories,” this one just might get you to change your mind.
Check out The Speckled Beauty on Libby, or from your branch's shelves with your library card today!
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This post is for educational purposes and the contents are not endorsed by the Fulton County Library System or Fulton County Government.