Friday, November 16, 2012

Alison Pace's "You Tell Your Dog First"

Alison Pace's novels include If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, Pug Hill and its sequel, A Pug’s Tale, and City Dog.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, You Tell Your Dog First, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book You Tell Your Dog First is from an essay called “Carlie is Ready for Her Close-Up” in which my dog, Carlie, was photographed by renowned dog photographer Amanda Jones. It zeros in on the moment when, after much preparation (grooming, traveling, negotiating), the camera starts clicking. In many ways this page is very representative of the book as a whole. It shows right off the bat that I’m a person who has such a high level of into-it-ness about her dog that I’m willing to travel long distances to have her photographed. I’m pretty into my dog. It also captures a really nice side of Carlie’s personality –this joie de vivre she brings to so many things—and touches a little bit on how Carlie has, in many situations, been instrumental in getting me out of my own comfort zone. This essay ends with a comparison of dogs and cameras, how they both encourage you to slow down and take notice of the world around you. That’s a pretty big theme of the book: the ways in which dogs connect people to their worlds. I’m not sure that comes across entirely in this excerpt, but it does to some extent. My hope: readers will want to continue on after this page.

Here’s the page in its entirety:
it has been my belief ever since that day that Carlie is very aware of what a camera does and what happiness it brings. She looked backwards over her shoulder. She raised her chin skyward. She gamely ran after bounced tennis balls. When Amanda held her camera in front of her to check something, Carlie went over to investigate, possibly assist. When Amanda’s assistant’s dog Milo scooted onto the photo shoot, Carlie moved to the back of the frame, clearly, obviously, anyone could see it, horrified.

Amanda made a noise like a cat, and when that didn’t get a response she asked “do you want to go for a ride in a car” and “where’s the squirrel?” At one point she brandished a rubber chicken. Carlie loved it. I watched her, so joyous, so in the moment, so happy, and I thought how much I loved her.

Along with “who’s my gorgeous, gorgeous girl,” I also often say to Carlie, “you are an amazing, amazing animal.” I think it started that day.

Amanda asked if I wanted to get in the shots. I wasn’t sure. She said we could get one to use it for your author photo. I put on lipstick. I took off my shoes, and feeling tremendously awkward and not at all at ease I sat next to Carlie. In a brazen attempt to channel a picture Amanda had shown me of a beautiful woman sprawled on the floor with her Rhodesian ridgeback, I sprawled across the paper. It did not have the desired effect. I said, “What do you think if we take a couple with Carlie over my shoulder?” I rotated myself around.
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Pace's website.

The Page 69 Test: City Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue