Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

January 16, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

ANIMAL HAPPINESS by Vicki Hearne. (HarperCollins: $20; 256 pp.) Vicki Hearne, animal trainer, poet and philosopher, has been writing delightfully and with much delight about animals for decades. In the proud tradition of James Thurber she pauses not a moment in her assumption that humans were put on the planet to live up to the expectations and high moral standards of dogs. If anthropomorphizing were a crime, Vicki Hearne would need a very good lawyer, for her characters speak, admonish, reprimand and teach by example. Bookish types, she asserts late in the book, often make the mistake of trying to mystify animals, thinking that "like lovers and gold," they are "more precious when uninterpretable." Take Arrow, a service dog from Venice, Calif.: "When you do make the grade and a dog like Arrow becomes willing to talk to you, that too goes straight to the heart, and stays there," or Jack, the philosopher's cat, who accuses his owner of "trying to do philosophy with him," while the "whole point of being a cat is that you don't descend to such nonsensical behavior." There's Peppy the wonder horse, George the Samoyed or "nordic nerd," Scrapper, the lion who died of a broken heart ("You have a brokenhearted dog or horse, you can turn the situation round at almost any stage. But once a lion's heart is broke, then that's what you've got. A brokenhearted lion."), and my favorite, a Pakistani frog ("a clear eloquent color, somewhere between green and brown, that spoke of the coherence of the quest"), who dies mesmerized by his reflection in a bathroom tile. "After all," writes Hearne, "we remember Narcissus not for his looks but for his looking."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|