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Something in the Bloodline

Tuesday 02/01/2005 12:49 AM


I'm not sure what to say or how to even start.

This afternoon, I enjoyed an hour-long telephone conversation with Barbara Petersen who, with her husband, Bob, were the owners of Frankie and Isabelle, parents of Chauncey.

I could write for hours on this and for the first time I'm torn on what to write here and what to write for the book and how to figure out to what degree those passages will overlap.

Let me stick to simple facts and first impressions. For now.

That Chauncey had so palpable a soul is no happenstance. His mother was a beautiful creature and his father was deservedly christened Saint Frank. Some of the similarities between Chauncey's life and his parents are downright eerie.

Barbara and Bob seem very familiar to me as their love for their dogs is not just considered in how they live their lives, but dictates it. Anyone that knows how Candy and I revolve our lives around The Boys (well, now I guess it's just The Boy) will recognize those characteristics.

Now for the big one. Bob is none other than Bob Shacochis, award winning author of several books who has for years been published in magazines such as Harpers, GQ and others.

Did you know that Bob's book Swimming In The Volcano was beat out for the 1993 National Book Award by one vote by The Shipping News?

Wanna know more about Bob? Listen to him talk about his experience in Haiti in the mid 90's.

Not only is Bob a successful, well-respected storyteller, but one New Year's Eve while hanging out with some other writer friends of his, Chauncey's father, Frankie, inspired a poem that led to other poems from other dogs and eventually an entire book called Unleashed: Poems by Writers' Dogs, which was edited by Amy Hempel.

Now who is Amy Hempel? I've never read any of her books, but for the last year Chuck Palahniuk has been raving about her in his online writers workshop.

For those of you who don't know about Chuck... well he's the author of this little book and film (one of the best DVDs ever, but out-of-print — if you don't want to hunt for a used one, you can get the readily available but inferior single-disc version instead) called Fight Club. I'll have to write about my continuing fascination and love for Fight Club some other time.

So in summation, I'll run through this backwards. After falling in love with the film Fight Club, I started reading other books by Chuck Palahniuk and kept up with him via his web site. When Chuck talked about Amy Hempel, I paid attention and made a mental note to track down some of her stuff (if she's half as cool as Mark Richard, whose Ice at the Bottom of the World was recommended by Chuck and is awesome, then I have little doubt I am missing out). Turns out Amy Hempel knows Bob Shacochis, the owner of Chauncey's father, Frankie. And Frankie inspired a book about poems written by the dogs of authors and it was edited by Amy Hempel.

Cool, huh?

Yes, there's more. Lots. But that's all for now.

File Under: Book; Chauncey, Heritage; Dog Books; Movies; Other People's Books; Research Discoveries; Shacochis, Bob
Music: Eddie Harris "The Artist's Choice: The Eddie Harris Anthology"

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