This book is quite simply lovely. I want to gush and say it was wonderful, and fabulous and heart-wrenching, but that would be far too overstated for a book such as this. In my opinion, if this book was to be personified, it would just blush shyly and say 'It was nothing!' if I did. So I shall say it was lovely so as not to embarrass the book further and leave it at that - whilst still recommending that anyone and everyone should read it, preferably a minimum of five times, and then that they should memorize it so they can recite paragraphs at will. It's really that good!
Dog Walks Man is subtly brilliant and I loved it, start to finish. I read the last pages only a couple of weeks ago, but would quite happily re-read it even now whilst it is fresh in my memory. The tag line is 'A Six-Legged Odyssey' which gives an inkling of the wit that lies within the book. After all it is about dog walking isn't it? Surely a dog walk couldn't be an 'Odyssey' could it? Is an amble around the park really a huge adventure? The answer is that it depends on how you look at it.
Throughout this book the author allows the reader to see a dog walk through his keen eyes, to appreciate his sense of humour and to share in his observations. He also introduces you to his family a little, fellow dog walkers, their doggy charges and the different places he strolls around. Most importantly he waxes lyrical about his dog 'Pete' (named after a character in Ghostbusters 'Peter Venkman') and their time together.
Something I particularly loved about this book was its simplicity. The author does not scale mountains in snowstorms with his trusty dog by his side and boast about the views - he goes out to let Pete do his business and to stretch his legs, just as every other dog walker in the world does. Yet he still makes the walk seem as interesting and informative as if he had been writing about ascending Everest - in a very understated, calm, witty way.
Personally I love walking, crappy weather and appropriate clothing permitting of course -so this book was bound to agree with me really. I also devour travel books given half a chance, and although this was inherently a book about short dog walks around an american neibourhood - it definitely held me in the same thrall as, say, a book about hiking through Patagonia might. Apologies to anyone who thinks that sounds like the most boring book ever, I unashamedly adore that kind of thing.
The author, John Zeaman, includes funny anecdotes (you cannot fail to laugh at the bit where Pete finds a huge black vibrator and refuses to stop carrying it) and sad moments that had me wiping tears on my sleeve and weeping like a baby. I felt genuinely privelidged to read the book and to share some of the details of Pete and the author's life, seeing ups and downs and descriptions of the days.
Many, many thanks to Octopus Books for sending me this to review. I shall guard it with my life! It's a very special book and my life's all the richer for having read it.
If you'd like to purchase your own copy you can find it HERE, and it retails at £7.99.