Fell in love with reading at 4 yrs. old; no one could figure out how I learned, but I’m assuming an earlier life as a doddering librarian or a pretend-strict schoolmaster (the kind Mann talks about in Joseph & His Brothers). At five I started writing in a 4″ x 3″ “Memo” book that I found in the trash – we collected the garbage for our 8-family apartment house, where the apartments were under 400 s.f.: nearly big enough for a small family of opossums, or the four of us (big brother was away at M.I.T. for as long as I can remember). I wrote poetry, with a red pencil, as there was no other one in the house. Here’s a sample: Winter is so cold this year/The radiators steam the panes./ Mom puts the snow-pants over them/Weird skeletons remain. I started writing the book about Hennessy – one of my two dogs – sometime early this year. I honestly never thought I’d so love anything, and perhaps not a non-human, but she has become the greatest friend of my life, bar none. All through high school (Suyvesant in New York City), and then beyond college (Harvard, ’68) I was in love with someone or other, but never before a dog. Oh yeah, I loved Tuffy (our sweet blond mutt), who got hit by an ice-cream truck; and I adored my ex’s goldiie sisters Josie&Mandy. And of course Turgenyev, the amazing great-dane + brindle shepherd who ran circles around our marathon-runner friends. But Hennessy …she looks in my eyes, and sees right through into my soul, and loves me despite all the crap that’s there. She saved my life that long, terrible year when I gave up the job I’d spent ten years at (building an insurance management company with a few turncoat scumbag friends, the more fool me), and as far as i can tell she’s the reincarnation of my mother – as my American bulldog pup, now two, is the reincarnation of my father. They’re precisely the same age differences as my parents, and while Licker (photo) was born on my father’s birthday, who knows when Hennessy was born. She’s four 1/2.
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