The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yikes! There's a Hamster in the Dashboard!

        For all three of my followers--I'm back onto this continent. On Thursday I will post some photos from France, but for today, check out a collection of pet stories, and at the end, find out about a give-away I'm offering...

 
      

        Right away--from the title on--I felt at home with the stories in David W. Berner's book There's a Hamster in the Dashboard:  A Life in Pets. The title made me hurtle back to my childhood to a gerbil that disappeared in my closet... and was never found. (I like to think it had a long, interesting life, full of adventures, since my closet was full of all sorts of stuff.) And then I remembered the hamsters my daughter brought home from a high school science class. We treated those hamsters like they were CEOs. We purchased one of those expensive hamster homes--with the plastic tubes that looped around outside of the cage--but these ungrateful hamsters were Houdini-reincarnations. They chewed their way out, came upstairs from the basement, and were literally scared to death when faced with our golden retriever mix. (The final stand-off was in the middle of our living room, but our cats had flushed them out. The hamsters had camped out behind a floor-to-ceiling bookcase and our two cats sat--fascinated--in front of the bookcase for quite a while before the rodents tried to make a break for it.)

         Berner's little slices of his life are filled with humor and poignancy. His story about ants reminded me that I too had had an Uncle Milton ant farm. (Unfortunately for the ants, I lost the water dropper, and had to use a straw. If I remember right, I ended up accidentally drowning the ants.)  At camp, I had a pet ant (one of those great big ones) that I kept in my plastic soap dish for a while. In his book, the author chronicles the varied pets he's had, including a lizard, a cat, more than one dog, a spider named Ralph, and two gerbils that got "married." Tony and Tina the gerbils had babies so soon after their honeymoon, I wondered... Were they Tony's babies? Should he have gone onto the Maury Povich show and demanded a DNA test? I just don't know...      

     David Berner even tells of his desire to have a piranha, his father's dream of having a monkey, and having a squirrel for a few days. It's obvious that Berner gets it. He gets the connection we have with animals. He gets the importance that animals have in our lives. And he gets how much pets enrich our lives.

     There are times when I read a collection of vignettes and the endings aren't satisfying. It's as if the writer has spent the time on lacing up the story, nice and neat, but then finally ties a quick, sloppy knot at the end. Berner took the time to give a satisfying finale to each story.

      Leave a comment, and I will put your name in the hat for a free copy of the book. (Sioux don't do no "raffle-copter" 'cause she ain't that tech-savvy. Instead, your name will literally be put into a hat, shaken AND stirred before I close my eyes and one slip is pulled out.)


Book Summary:
A book of essays by award-winning author and journalist David W. Berner is the next best thing to storytelling around a bonfire. In There’s a Hamster in the Dashboard, Berner shares stories of “a life in pets”—from a collie that herds Berner home when the author goes “streaking” through the neighborhood as a two-year-old, to a father crying in front of his son for the only time in his life while burying the family dog on the Fourth of July. And from the ant farm that seems like a great learning experience (until the ants learn how to escape), to the hamster that sets out on its own road trip (but only gets as far as the dashboard). Along the way, Berner shows that pets not only connect us with the animal world, but also with each other and with ourselves. The result is a collection of essays that is insightful and humorous, entertaining and touching.
  
Buy links:
Print or Ebook: Amazon
Print copy only: Dream of Things
Paperback: 138 Pages
Genre: Memoir, Pets, Essays
Publisher: Dream of Things (April 23, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0990840719

Twitter hashtag: # HamsterDash

About the Author: David W. Berner is a journalist, broadcaster, teacher, and author of two award-winning books: Accidental Lessons, which earned the Royal Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature, and Any Road Will Take You There, which was a Grand Prize Finalist for the 2015 Hoffer Award for Books. Berner’s stories have been published in a number of literary magazines and journals, and his broadcast reporting and audio documentaries have aired on the CBS Radio Network and dozens of public radio stations across America. He teaches at Columbia College Chicago.

21 comments:

  1. Can't wait to see your France pics!

    This looks like such a cute book. To quote Rowan Atkinson in Rat Race, "I hope I weeen!:

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    1. Lisa--You just might be the weiner! :)

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  2. So glad you are back! When does school start for you...soon I know! Stories about pets reminded me of turtles we had as kids...and time they were lost!

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    1. Claudia--Teachers go back on Thursday. THIS Thursday!

      Yes, we had a few turtles interspersed in our string of pets. I loved all of my pets, no matter if they were mammals or reptiles or birds or amphibians...

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    1. Shay--Thanks. It was obvious, whenever I tried to use the few French phrases I know, that I was from the United States.

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  4. Welcome back; glad you liked the book!!!!

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    1. Crystal--Thanks, and thanks for the opportunity.

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  5. Welcome home. My brother and I had a pet graveyard. Doesn't say much about our pet care.

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    1. Linda--We had a pet cemetery on the side of our house--that's where the parakeets and the fish and the turtles were buried (not the dogs). Each pet got a funeral with rose petals and a few kind words.

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  6. I hope you were on your best behavior in France. At least better than your behavior in Backroads, specifically the gas station chicken store.

    Put names into a hat? A HAT? What's wrong with shaking them around in the toe of a Croc?

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    1. Val--How can I put names in the toe of my Croc when I'm constantly wearing them?

      And I DID try to behave myself in France so there wouldn't be an international incident. No photos of the nude men and women on the beach. However, I DID take some shots in the cheese and bread shops...

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  7. Thanks for the kind words! It's amazing how our experiences with animals and pets are so much the same. And to LInda's comment — my parents had a pet graveyard, too...in their BACKYARD! It's in the book. :)

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    1. David--Good luck with your book. I think animal people all have something in common. We ALL have a richer life because of our pets.

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  8. Glad it sounds like you had a good time! You sort of had me at the book cover. And I know just what you mean about those sloppy knots. So glad he tied up a neat and satisfying little bow.

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    1. Tammy--It's a great title, for sure.

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  9. Well that collection appears to be right up my alley. Throw my name in the hat, please. Looking forward to hearing the saucy tales of Sioux in France.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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    1. Pat--Well, I DID eat a few things with sauce while I was in France... ;)

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  10. So enjoyed David's book (don't put my name in your hat) and so glad you made it back!

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    1. Cathy--I did, too. And as delightful as France was (and is), it was great to get back home.

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  11. Sorry I'm so late joining this but if it isn't too late, I'd like for my name to be put in the hat. I'm so allergic to pets that I get my pet fix through reading pet stories.

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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...