A guide to pet health from a caretaker and a veterinarian.
In this valuable and accessible reference guide, Ellsworth (The Psychoanalysis of Everyday Life, 2012), with her veterinarian co-writer, Wafer, details a number of ailments dogs and cats can face, from the common to the rare, via stories of the pets she cares for. “Technically, I’m a pet sitter,” Ellsworth says. “But since some of these pets spend more time with me than their owners, I prefer to think of myself as a pet au pair.” The stories illustrate illnesses like thyroid problems and heartworms as well as conditions like obesity and behavioral problems. Some end sadly—Fowler, the best bird dog in Solano County, California, had aged well past his prime before being euthanized—while other issues were little more than brief disturbances in a dog’s or cat’s routine. Ellsworth tackled all problems with a level head, even though they included things like anal gland expression and tumors. The book’s lighthearted tone is clearly full of love for all creatures, yet it’s also elevated enough to include medical terminology: “Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) alone contains copper, iron, selenium, magnesium and zinc,” readers are told, “as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, D and E.” The work would make an ideal reference for pet owners who need basic information about pet health problems as well as advice on when it’s time to take a cat or dog to the vet. Offering readers numerous avenues to attack a particular health problem, the authors provide information on homeopathic treatments as well as modern veterinary medicine along with the necessary cautions that come with taking such an approach. Through dialogues with Ellsworth’s own veterinarian, Dr. McKenna, and his assistant, the authors make complex terminology and difficult decisions seem simpler and easier to manage. Also included is a comprehensive list of the subtypes of many conditions—such as possible dermatological issues and mental problems—as well as other useful sections covering common substances poisonous to pets and a discussion of vaccines.

A handy, approachable reference for cat and dog health.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1596300903

Page Count: 252

Publisher: BeachHouse Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2014

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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Startling, at times pretentious in its self-regard, but ultimately breathtaking: The Lost Weekend for the under-25 set.


Frey’s lacerating, intimate debut chronicles his recovery from multiple addictions with adrenal rage and sprawling prose.

After ten years of alcoholism and three years of crack addiction, the 23-year-old author awakens from a blackout aboard a Chicago-bound airplane, “covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood.” While intoxicated, he learns, he had fallen from a fire escape and damaged his teeth and face. His family persuades him to enter a Minnesota clinic, described as “the oldest Residential Drug and Alcohol Facility in the World.” Frey’s enormous alcohol habit, combined with his use of “Cocaine . . . Pills, acid, mushrooms, meth, PCP and glue,” make this a very rough ride, with the DTs quickly setting in: “The bugs crawl onto my skin and they start biting me and I try to kill them.” Frey captures with often discomforting acuity the daily grind and painful reacquaintance with human sensation that occur in long-term detox; for example, he must undergo reconstructive dental surgery without anesthetic, an ordeal rendered in excruciating detail. Very gradually, he confronts the “demons” that compelled him towards epic chemical abuse, although it takes him longer to recognize his own culpability in self-destructive acts. He effectively portrays the volatile yet loyal relationships of people in recovery as he forms bonds with a damaged young woman, an addicted mobster, and an alcoholic judge. Although he rejects the familiar 12-step program of AA, he finds strength in the principles of Taoism and (somewhat to his surprise) in the unflinching support of family, friends, and therapists, who help him avoid a relapse. Our acerbic narrator conveys urgency and youthful spirit with an angry, clinical tone and some initially off-putting prose tics—irregular paragraph breaks, unpunctuated dialogue, scattered capitalization, few commas—that ultimately create striking accruals of verisimilitude and plausible human portraits.

Startling, at times pretentious in its self-regard, but ultimately breathtaking: The Lost Weekend for the under-25 set.

Pub Date: April 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50775-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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