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Watch Your Step, Mr. Mailer

Lifting a Leg on the Literary Launch Party

November 19, 2000|LESLEE KOMAIKO

The presence of a dog psychic pretty much guarantees that, as publication parties go, today's celebration of Carol Doumani's upcoming book, "Putting on the Dog," won't be just another stuffy white wine-and-brie intellectual ego-fest.

Doumani, 51, of Venice, has invited a couple hundred friends-- and their dogs--to gather at a local park to celebrate the 65th birthday of her husband, Roy, for whom she published the book that features 50 color photos of Jasper, their 3-year-old Saluki. The photos are accompanied by quotes from great thinkers, such as Milan Kundera, Rita Rudner and Jasper himself (translated by Doumani, of course).

The invitation promises "a light lunch and dog biscuits" and doggie gift bags.

The publication/birthday party is the culmination of events that began two Christmases ago when Doumani received a digital camera as a gift. She immediately embarked on a photographic study of their two dogs, Jasper in particular. "You can't believe how well Jasper will just pose," she says. "He likes being the center of attention."

One of Doumani's first snapshots of Jasper shows him staring into the lens through wire-rimmed glasses. Doumani conceived the shot as a get-well card for her mother, who was recovering from eye surgery at the time. Next came scholastic Jasper, sitting regally in tasseled cap in front of an open tome. "For a graduation card," says Doumani, who has written four novels and one cookbook, all published by her own company, Wave Publishing.

Roy Doumani suggested that his wife compile her hundreds of dog photos into a book. "I'm not a professional photographer and I'm certainly not Bill Wegman," she says, referring to the celebrated photographer responsible for several books starring his Weimaraners.

Nonetheless, "Putting on the Dog" debuts this month with an initial print run of 2,000 copies. "I jokingly say I publish these books to give as hostess gifts," says Doumani, adding that even with the $50 price tag, she'll probably make no profit from the expensively produced books.

The book's cover features textured, handmade Japanese paper chosen, Doumani says, because "it looks like dog hair." Each copy also features a wraparound paper dog collar, complete with dangling "Jasper" tag.

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