Witty stories about caring for animals that delicately balance comedy and pathos.

Bite Me


A collection of essays captures the unpredictable, demanding life of an emergency veterinarian.

Lefkowitz (Did My Dog Eat a Sock? Did My Dog Eat a Rock?, 2014), a veterinarian for more than 20 years, currently practices outside Boise, Idaho. From veterinary school onward, she’s been jotting down peculiar professional moments. In such a stressful career—vets are disproportionately likely to commit suicide, she notes—it’s important to look for the lighter side. Whether it’s a kitten swallowing a condom or a dog sipping piña coladas, she often shakes her head over owner negligence and animal mischief. “My job is never boring,” the author proclaims. The book’s careful thematic structure also reflects the fact that diagnoses tend to bunch together. On “The Night of Traumas,” for instance, she treated a farm cat with an amputated lower leg, a dachshund hit by a car, and a feline attacked by two dogs. An edgy chapter on sex cannily pulls together disparate anecdotes: canine penis problems, the collection of semen from farm animals, customers’ touchiness about pets’ gender, and a sexual harassment charge she filed against a male technician. Indeed, many stories involve people’s odd behavior rather than animals’; the author renders in italics the often sarcastic responses she keeps to herself. Although it was heartbreaking to give owners bad news, Lefkowitz maintained a detached perspective when euthanizing several animals a day. On the other hand, she gave her heart to the elderly Chihuahua and accident-prone poodle she adopted. Neatly weaving in autobiographical snippets, Lefkowitz remembers her father’s sudden death and her mother’s severe injuries when hit by a car. Family tragedies prepared her for emergency situations and taught her to seize the day: she and her partner traveled the world by bike, marveling at how African doctors coped with equipment inferior to that in American veterinary clinics. The 13 black-and-white photographs are a nice addition, but minor typos (for example, “supercede” for “supersede”) and punctuation issues (“cars ignition,” instead of “car’s ignition”) detract slightly from the overall quality. Apart from a somewhat cheesy final chapter punning on tails/tales, these fun, good-natured vignettes are well-chosen.

Witty stories about caring for animals that delicately balance comedy and pathos.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-60234-8

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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