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…