Monday, January 14, 2013

Buddy: How a rooster made me a family man by Brian McGrory

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Award-winning journalist Brian McGrory goes head to beak in a battle royale with another male for a top-spot in his home, vying for dominance with the family’s pet rooster. 
   Brian McGrory's life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry: he fell in love with Pam, Harry's veterinarian. Though Brian’s only responsibility used to be his adored Harry, Pam came with accessories that could not have been more exotic to the city-loving bachelor: a home in suburbia, two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and a portly, snow white, red-crowned-and-wattled step-rooster named Buddy. While Buddy loves the women of the house, he takes Brian's presence as an affront, doing everything he can to drive out his rival. Initially resistant to elements of his new life and to the loud, aggressive rooster (who stares menacingly, pecks threateningly, and is constantly poised to attack), Brian eventually sees that Buddy shares the kind of extraordinary relationship with Pam and her two girls that he wants for himself. The rooster is what Brian needs to be – strong and content, devoted to what he has rather than what might be missing. As he learns how to live by living with animals, Buddy, Brian’s nemesis, becomes Buddy, Brian’s inspiration, in this inherently human story of love, acceptance, and change.

And here's what I thought:  I admit it --- I picked up this book just because it was on the new books display of my library, and the title and cover caught my eye.   I wasn't sure what to expect from it, and figured I'd be in for a fast, humorous read and move on to my next book.   Instead, I got a bit more --- I got a book that had parts that made me smile, and parts that made me get choked up, and an overall book that made me think.   And not just think about roosters, either.

As you can see from the summary, the book is about the author's change of life from living as a bachelor in the city to moving to suburbia with his new wife, her daughters, and a number of animals, including a rooster, Buddy. However, Brian McGrory doesn't just focus on Buddy, but also gives us his experiences with his beloved dog, Harry.   At first, I didn't quite get where the author was going with this.  I mean, where's the rooster?  Why is the author talking about this dog?   But then, I started to understand what was happening, and why the author was writing about Harry.  His experiences with Harry shaped who he was, and how he saw life, in general.   It made complete sense to give some back-story so that the reader has more of an understanding of just how much an adjustment it was for the author to not only move to the suburbs with his new wife, and her daughters, but also how much of an adjustment it was to live with a rooster.

Living with Buddy is certainly full of .... adventure.  As you might expect, since Buddy is a rooster, and the author is the only man in the household, Buddy never quite sees Brian in a friendly way.   So, it's pretty entertaining to read about Buddy, and what it's like to live with him.  The author has a great writing style, so not only did I get a clear picture in my mind of Buddy, but also clearly got the author's mood coming through.  My husband had encounters with a rooster on one of our trips to Italy, which was enough to make me believe we'll never live with our own rooster.

But, as I said, this book isn't just an entertaining story of living with a belligerent rooster.  When Brian is writing about Harry, from the first day he met the dog, and onwards, there's a thoughtfulness.   Having Harry in his life gives the author not only new experiences, such as getting to know more people in his neighborhood, but also, insight into himself, and his relationships with other people.  I liked how he reflected on his marriages, and especially, what it was like to make the adjustment to his new marriage (and his wife's daughters).  In fact, there's a thoughtfulness and honesty running through this book that made me take my time with it.  Not everything the author shares in this book is funny, or even happy, and I appreciated that that, in turn, made me reflect on my own experiences when I was reading it.   It was a happy surprise to find this book and have it turn out the way that it did.



First lines:  Try as you might, you never forget that first time a rooster announced the dawn of a new day from your very own yard.

2 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

This sounds fun and I love the cover.

Teena in Toronto said...

I just finished this book and enjoyed it!

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