Glasgow-based novelist Healy makes his U.S. debut with an ode to his dog, “a gift from God, to keep me in the world.”
The author spent his early adult years roaming around Scotland, drinking, brawling, writing short stories, drinking, generally batching it, and, oh yes, drinking. Then, on a lark, he adopted a Doberman named Martin. This slender volume, marked by blunt, unadorned prose, is a paean to the dog whose devotion and dependence transformed his life. Healy got serious about earning money, so that he could pay Martin’s veterinarian bills, and he gradually ditched the bottle. Though he wouldn’t get sober until after Martin’s death, Healy credits the dog with starting him on the path to sobriety: “I wanted to keep him and I could not have kept him had I continued to drink the way I had.” The author and his elderly mother bonded over Martin. He began attending mass as a result of their more comfortable relationship and, over the years, gained strength from his Catholic faith. (The book takes its title from a Christian psalm.) Healy even embarked on a ten-day silent retreat at a monastery. The silence proved challenging only when he ran across a monk who used to tend bar at one of his hangouts.
Dog-lovers who found Marley & Me too saccharine will welcome this darker-hued appreciation of a canine friend.