Sunday, December 28, 2008


You talk to your dog. You know you do, so you might as well admit it. And it's not all goo goo ga ga baby talk either. No, you engage in conversations composed of complete sentences and abstract thought.

Gil Winowiscz, the forty seven year old hero of Nose Down, Eyes Up talks to his four dogs (Jimmy, Cheney, Fruity, and Dink) as he putters through his days as caretaker and handyman on an estate in Malibu. Then one day he realizes that they talk to him, too. And that he can understand them.

There's been a recent outbreak of books told exclusively or partly from the perspective of a dog (The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle both come to mind), but I'd wager that none of them is as hilarious as Nose Down, Eyes Up.

Let's take the title, first. Jimmy, who Gil's raised from a pup, is the alpha dog of the neighborhood. He takes his responsibilities as alpha seriously, and when Gil accidentally crashes a meeting of the dogs he discovers that Jimmy's been giving them lessons in how to manipulate their humans. Nose down eyes up is one of the primary postures--rather yoga-like, if you will--which dogs use to melt our hearts and get us to do what they want. What, you think you really wanted to throw that ball 75 times in a row, sometimes having to wrest it dripping from the mouth of your manipulative pup? Nah, that's just Fido exercising his power over you.

It seems to me, as a dog lover, that Merrill Markoe captures their various voices and levels of understanding perfectly. The book is a romp, but it's also a keen meditation on the importance of love and family--however that family may be configured. You don't have to be a dog lover to love this book; that will just enhance your enjoyment of it.

Disclosure: In accordance with new FTC guidelines for bloggers I must let you know that I received a free review copy of this title.  My reviews are just that: reviews.  They are not endorsements, nor am I ever compensated for posting my opinion.  I am, however, an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you make a purchase from Amazon after clicking through a link on my site--even if you don't buy a title to which I've linked!--I will receive a small commission.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Greetings from Bucks County, PA!

I didn't see an email, so I thought this was the next best way to get in contact with you. We liked reading this review on "Nose Down, Eyes Up." It's Todd's Show will be linking to the review from our blog, Tuesday, June 9th. Here's the link we plan to use: If you'd prefer me to point the link elsewhere, just let me know.
If you have 5 minutes, please take a look at our blog and our show.

We'd love to know what you think.


Caitlin Strunk

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