DREAMING IN LIBRO by Louise Bernikow


How a Good Dog Tamed a Bad Woman
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Bernikow continues the love story between a woman and a boxer begun in Bark If You Love Me (2000).

“It is an odd failing of historians and biographers,” writes Bernikow, “that the presence of a dog in a writer’s life goes largely unnoticed by them.” For Bernikow, Libro, her beloved boxer with the “imperfect swaggering gait,” served as a brindle-colored Muse. As recounted in Bark, Libro entered the author’s life unexpectedly. Abandoned or lost in New York City’s Riverside Park in the late 1990s, Libro clearly came from a loving home. He was properly trained, at ease with apartment living, understood Spanish and had a special fondness for black men. Unable to locate Libro’s owners, Bernikow reluctantly adopted the boxer; this concluding installment chronicles their nine years together, and Libro’s eventual death. With Libro, Bernikow explored the city like never before, traveled across the country on book tours and learned to endure, and eventually befriend, “dog people.” Balancing each other “like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,” the writer and her Muse even survived illness (Bernikow had cancer, Libro a ruptured tendon). But all good things come to an end, and the gimpy-legged boxer ultimately succumbed to a tumor. The author chronicles Libro’s decline and her grief in language heartfelt and genuine: “For a year after Libro died, my greatest joys were small, daily ones—the garden, the friends, the books read and the books in the process of being written.” She says that she “hated the empty apartment” and that she “never stopped opening the door carefully, as though a creature with amber eyes and a set of paws might be waiting just inside.”

Witty and unabashedly sentimental, which dog lovers surely won't mind.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-7382-1096-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2007