‘Travels with Casey’ by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

August 6, 2014 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

First up as part of my “Making Time to Read” Midsummer Reading Challenge.

travelsIn the highly enjoyable Travels with Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country, journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis recounts his decision to travel across America in a rented RV with his golden retriever Casey in hopes of strengthening the bond between them. Denizet-Lewis, painfully navel-gazing and over-analyzing, felt that Casey perhaps didn’t like him very much and always wondered why his dog couldn’t love him unconditionally as other dogs did. His solution to the perceived problem? A roadtrip, Steinbeck-style.

It’s a somewhat random fix, but I for one am tremendously glad he chose it. Travels with Casey, as the end product of the random roadtrip, is a wonderful mash-up of travel narrative, investigative reporting, and dog book that is sure to entertain pretty much anyone.

And Travels with Casey is more than just a lively and entertaining travelogue about Denizet-Lewis’ relationship with his dog. Over the course of the trip, our heroes seek out all manner of dog lovers across America in hopes of coming to terms with the big picture relationship between dog and human in America in 2014. It’s a neat little micro/macro approach to a huge topic and Denizet-Lewis skips through both stories at a clip, never allowing either narrative to lag or settle.

My only complaint, in the end, is that very quickness. The entire book is by turns fascinating and amusing and Denizet-Lewis very carefully cites and quotes from his rich research throughout the book. However, with such a lot of ground to cover (if you’ll forgive the roadtrip pun), often each pitstop and topic is given a pitifully small amount of ink. Topics whiz by, leaving the reader wishing for more. Denizet-Lewis is a great reporter and one who has written articles of depth and insight for The New York Times, so the somewhat flighty style of Travels with Casey, while perhaps necessary given the constraints of the book, can also prove frustrating.

On the bright side, there is a trove of notes in the back of the book to help anyone craving more. And the speed of the book is, for the most part, no true detriment. Indeed, one of the most obvious signs of how entertaining this book is, is how fast it flies by!

In the end,Travels with Casey was a really fun and quick book. It is also an absolutely perfect summer read. (With its sunny yellow cover and cheerful tone, I seriously can’t even imagine reading the book in any other season.) I enjoyed it over the course of one delightfully rainy Saturday, but I can easily see this book making its way to the beach. If you are remotely interested in dogs, and our strange and wonderful American relationship with them, definitely pick up this gem.

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Entry filed under: Non-fiction. Tags: , , , , .

Midsummer Reading Challenge: Making Time To Read ‘The Paper Magician’ by Charlie N. Holmberg

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