Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Book Review, Sunday, March 4, 2012: Oogy

Larry Levin's story about "Oogy, The Dog Only a Family Could Love" is simple and touching. It would have made a great magazine article.

But someone, apparently some editor at Grand Central Publishing, evidently told Mr. Levin that he needed to add more details to make the story into a book.

And so he adds the details about how his family got Oogy---not too bad, shows how the family loved its previous pet; how he and his wife got their family---they adopted twin boys, also not bad at all, shows how the family started by taking in human babies who needed a home; how the veterinarian who saved Oogy's life decided to do that---not bad, because that in itself was an act of supreme love and care; how Oogy's life was put in danger in the first place---essential, because it sheds light on dog-fighting and other crimes against animals...Madame L even enjoyed finding out how the family discovered Oogy's true breed (not a pit bull mix, as they'd originally thought, but a Dogo Argentino---Fascinating!

But then Mr. Levin tells about how he takes his coffee into the room where he sits with Oogy and they snuggle together, how he unlatches the door to let Oogy out, how he pours Oogy's food into his dish and how Oogy savors every bite, how Oogy gets his nails clipped, how the twins sleep at night with Oogy nearby, how he drives to work and his wife drives home from work, and so on and so on.

Hey, all you teachers of writing classes! Yes, Madame L means you! And all you editors who spot a great story and want to turn it into a money-making book! You know who you are! KNOCK IT OFF! Stop telling your students to add more details!

Just let the story be its own story, okay? 

Oogy's story didn't need all those extra words.

Dear Readers, Madame L cannot recommend this book wholeheartedly, in spite of the wonderful story of this wonderful dog, Oogy, because of the over-writing. But if you don't mind that kind of writing and you need an inspirational book about human love and kindness and the unconditional love of animals, you'll like the story of Oogy.

You can get it in paperback from for $10.98, or borrow it from your local library for free (as Madame L did). It's also available as an audio CD for about $10.00 at Costco, which is where Madame L first saw it.

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