Drinking with Miss Dutchie: A Memoir

Ed Breslin, Author
Ed Breslin, St. Martin's/Dunne, $23.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-61975-6
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Exploring the bond between humans and dogs, Breslin, a former book editor and publisher, focuses on his own pet Labrador retriever, Miss Dutchie. At first, Breslin saw her as a squealing "feral puppy," but that quickly changed: "It took me 36 hours to fall in love with her." Tracing the days of Dutchie from puppyhood to death, Breslin probes his personal demons, interweaving his struggles with alcoholism, his "Jimmy Porter moods" and his defiance of AA precepts: "My own disgust with me was a huge problem." He introduces the reader to his wife, Lynn, and his parents, friends, and neighbors in Coxsackie, N.Y., as he documents the dog's attitude and activities, noting her impact on his life: "Of course, there was no writing.... Dutchess had developed an antipathy to computers." As the relationship developed, Miss Dutchie prompted him to alter his self-destructive habits: "My Labrador retriever was passing judgment on me and rejecting me." While he packs the pages with perhaps too many literary references from Cheever, O'Hara, and Kerouac, Breslin writes intensely and emotionally about psychic pain, grief, and the loss of friends and dogs. (Mar.)
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