I wanted to be a vet for a whole week when I was little. This career path followed right after my I’m-going-to-be-an-astronaut phase, which was curtailed after I tried to dress my infant brother in my Astronaut Cabbage Patch’s outfit: helmet and all.
The vet phase was also short lived. Lasting exactly as long as it took for me to discover that vets don’t just play with puppies all day: they also have to treat sick dogs, put dogs to sleep, and deal with blood. Also, my mother pointed out to me, vets don’t just treat dogs. They treat all sorts of animals. Including snakes.
I decided I wanted to be a Sea World trainer instead. It’s a good thing I changed my mind about this too, because that career path would ultimately not have worked out for me; as evidenced by the fact I hyperventilated at 19 while at Stingray City in the Caymen Islands.
I’ve outgrown my eight-year-old career indecision, but I haven’t outgrown my phobias about blood or snakes. I also haven’t outgrown my sensitivity to all-sad-dog-things. Twenty years later, Stonefox still makes me teary. Winning the race was NOT worth it!
So I was a big wimp – a bigger drama queen – and made a fuss about reading Dust of 100 Dogs. I bought it, I looked at it, I built all sorts of scary theories in my head….
And then I finally read it.
That’s when I realized: I’M AN IDIOT. The book is not about a pirate who kills 100 dogs. (Yes, that is one of the plotlines I invented).
A.S.King’s book is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a beautiful mix of historical, with current, with fantastic. I loved the structure of the book – the past, the present, the dog training facts – each facet worked together to tell a story that transcended the parts. (And I’ll freely admit that for each Dog Fact, I did a mental inventory of the puggles. They pass.)
Sidenote: the characters’ names are awesome too! Saffron and Emer have made their way onto the list of potential names for the distant-future-residents of the NTB.
Sure there were intense scenes – but I handled them. Part of me thinks I should get a merit badge for bravery, but a bigger part feels ridiculous for being such a wuss. Imagine what I’d have missed out on if I had talked myself out of reading this. It’s like brussels sprouts – how long did I resist those? Now I love them!
I was so inspired by my outstanding bravery and King’s equally outstanding prose, that today at the bookstore I picked up another book with a scary cover: Bliss by Lauren Myracle.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll start talking myself into reading it.
It wasn’t a lack of interest that was keeping me from Dust of 100 Dogs, but rather a lack of backbone.
I didn’t grow one over the weekend, but the visually stunning and slightly creepy cover sitting on my kitchen counter began to taunt me. Also, I got tired of feeling like the kid at school who doesn’t know the inside joke. Quite simply, I was sick of feeling left out: “What are you talking about guys? Huh? Huh? Tell me. I want to know.” And all the other readers looked at me disdainfully: “Oh, you wouldn’t get it because you haven’t read D100D.” I’ve already survived middle school once – I refuse to go back to that place again.
Although apparently I haven’t out-grown peer pressure…
I was going to start reading it this weekend, but the writing bug bit. Hard! I think it drew blood and left a bruise. Not that I’m complaining, I’m *thrilled!* that I was able to finish the first draft of my WIP (working title/synopsis: The-Book-About-Leukemia-MacGyver-Cheerleading-Superstitions-And-Playlists. TBALMCSAP for short). There was no time for reading. Yesterday I didn’t shower or get out of my pajamas until 5 pm. (Okay, I’ll say it with you: ewwwww!)
I was barely even a presence in the Twittersphere. And sleep? Forget it. The writing bug’s bite is made of caffeine (or maybe that was just the pots of coffee St. Matt made me each night before he and the puggles went up to bed). I don’t know the total number of hours I slept from Friday ‘til this morning – I don’t think I want to know, and I doubt I could do the math at this point anyway. Suffices to say, the number would be a single digit.
But this is GREAT! No, that’s not just the sleep deprivation talking. This is great because I know I’m going to sleep tonight. Like a baby made out of rock who’s overdosed on Nyquil. So all my fear of D100D keeping me up all night – no longer relevant!
I may still be an invertebrate, but my D100D problem is solved.
Can’t wait to join the cool kids club and discuss it when I’m done!
I have real avoidance issues with A.S. King’s Dust of 100 Dogs. I kept hearing the best things about the book, the buzz on the Internet is unbelievable, but still I hedged. And I know why I am dodging.
1) The title scares me. My first word was ‘dog.’ Actually, that’s a total lie. I don’t know what my first word was (makes a mental note to check), but I do love dogs. And I have issues with dog books. I have never seen or read Old Yeller. This is FORBIDDEN. So emphasized was it’s forbiddeness that even at 28, I still will not break this rule. There’s a good reason it’s forbidden: after I read Where the Red Fern Grows, I didn’t want to go to school for days because I was scared to let my dog out of my sight. I also got in BIG trouble for throwing a fit during 5th grade read aloud when Marty feeds the chocolate-covered graham crackers to Shiloh. Marty may not have known that chocolate was toxic for dogs, but I did – and I made my point that Marty need to find a vet NOW very loudly and clearly. Louder and clearer than the teacher – who promptly asked me to leave the room until I could be a good listener. Do not even ask me how I dealt with Marley and Me. Seeing the movie was not even an option. I need to take a break and go hug Biscotti and Bruschi after even thinking about it. A book that implies 100 dogs have died in its title – I am wary.
2) The cover also scares me. I don’t do scary things. Coraline was the limit to my scariness tolerance – and even then I had to hold a sixth grader’s hand. The cover of the book is visually stunning, but it also makes me want to turn on all the lights in my house and hold St. Matt’s hand.
But I’m working on my wimpiness. Really I am. And I was sick of feeling like the kid at the party who doesn’t know the gossip because everyone else had read it and I hadn’t. So, really it all came down to peer pressure.
On Valentine’s day while I was at the local independent bookstore picking out great books, I took a deep super-brave breath and had them order me a copy of Dust of 100 Dogs.
It came. I picked it up. I stared at if for a few days. I opened it. I read the first page.
And the first paragraph included an eyeball being popped out and rolled in sand. I don’t do blood. Not even a little. Not even papercuts.
I needed to take a break after this scene.
I’m thinking I might be ready to try again. Might take some courage pills tonight and give it a go.
Or maybe I should wait ‘til daylight…