Thursday, November 15, 2007

Essay: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp

Here's a link to an essay I wrote for the September 2007 issue of Paste Magazine about Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two. The book is about dogs, and so is the essay. An excerpt:

"Like Knapp, I lived by myself. Like her, I had just gotten out of a relationship that I knew would never work. I was lonely. I needed a friend. I didn’t go to the shelter expecting to find Lassie or my other half in the form of four legs and fur—just an animal to wag its tail when I walked in the door, and something to take the edge off of loneliness by being in my own pack of two. And while Emily—the Jack Russell Terrier who wound herself around my life—and I are less than perfect companions, she has changed me, hopefully for the better. Even when she tinkles on the carpet, yaps at a squirrel or nudges me while I work, she brings me a serenity I haven’t found anywhere else."

I read Pack of Two in graduate school; before I adopted my dog; and I read it after. The book took on a different meaning every single time. And that, I think, is one of the reasons it's a great book. I want to go back to it and read it all over again.

I was shocked and deeply saddened when I learned that Knapp died of cancer in 2002. She was such a wonderful talent, and every one of her books has left a big stamp on my brain. If I'm going to write another non-fiction book, I hope it's a sliver of what she's produced.

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