THE MASTER OF SUNNYBANK: A Biography of Albert Payson Terhune by Irving Litvag

THE MASTER OF SUNNYBANK: A Biography of Albert Payson Terhune

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Terhune created Lad: A Dog (1919) and a shelf of equally noble canines in the Twenties and Thirties, books known more for shaggy anthropomorphism and starched prose than enduring literary merit. But Terhune--or more precisely Wolf, Fair Ellen, et al.--found an enormous popular following including author Litvag, who appreciated the eminently reasonable superdogs that roamed The Place and obeyed the Law of the Master and Mistress, Some of that boyhood hero worship clings annoyingly to this portrayal and Litvag, in passages worthy of the Master, pompously refers to himself as ""The Visitor in the rental car"" as he tours the remains of Sunnybank, Terhune's New Jersey estate. Terhune was a newspaperman for more than twenty years, a prolific writer partly driven by a fear of poverty in his old age. Giant-sized, he relished the spotlight--he knew what made good copy and hired the young Amy Vanderbilt as his publicist; yet he detested the tourists who motored into Sunnybank and was known as an aggressive, bad-tempered egomaniac, even among dog fanciers. His first wife, omitted from his autobiography, died four days after the birth of Lorraine, a much-neglected only child; his second wife was an inseparable companion who resented Lorraine and was possessive even after his death--she maintained ""contact"" for 23 years. Always crotchety, Terhune destroyed his letters and papers just before he died, and many of the questions which Litvag raises go unanswered for lack of evidence. Those addicted to the Master's voice will value this decidedly partial tribute, but its insights are fitful, its judgments limited.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1977
ISBN: 0595199976
Publisher: Harper & Row