I don’t care what anyone else says, I adore Shirley MacLaine. In a world filled with deception, lies, war and negativity, her books shine like a beacon of light and love into dark corners. So she gets hokey, and oftentimes really does go out on a limb. Who cares? Her books are a BLAST to read, and her latest, Out on a Leash, is no exception.
Written from dual viewpoints, her own and that of her beloved dog Terry, Out on a Leash is a wonderful device for MacLaine to voice her opinions and views in a fun and enlightening fashion, and offer up a unique read to boot. We meet little Terry, a “humanimal”, as MacLaine puts it. Terry is a cute, feisty terrier who refers to his owner as MM, or Mistress Mother. From the moment we meet Terry, we realize this is no ordinary mutt, for Terry has thoughts, lots of thoughts…about lots of things. Things that go way beyond dog bones and playing fetch.
We learn that the author and her dog may have shared a past life together, and that they share opinions on the nature of love, respect for others, and the beauty of the natural world. And we come to understand that maybe, just maybe, humans and animals aren’t so different after all.
Now, we all know of MacLaine’s rather open-minded New-Agey views, and this book does indeed serve them up once again – past lives, futuristic thinking, metaphysics, ancient prophecies. The real fun is when we see some of the things going on in the world through the eyes of the dog. And though at times we wish MacLaine would develop more of her own thoughts and personal experiences (those got saved for other books) we find that Terry’s voice does an equally good job of stating the positions and viewpoints of the author on all things political, environmental, spiritual and relational. In fact, because MacLaine can speak through this “other voice,” we get a fresh, inspiring, and highly imaginative insight into how other forms of life just might view human actions and behavior.
I loved the eight full pages of personal photos of MacLaine and Terry interacting. Not too many authors dare show themselves in sweats sans make-up, playing with their dog. Dog lovers will eat this stuff up, as will solid MacLaine fans (me among them). As for readers new to MacLaine’s style, humor and out-there modes of thinking, they will either love it or hate it. No doubt many will have something to say about this book, and that is probably MacLaine’s intention. She is never one to back off from a good debate.
But again, in a world where our own leaders and corporations are robbing us blind, lying us into wars and generally destroying our economy, who can’t benefit from MacLaine’s breath of fresh air? Ultimately, this is a book about life, and love, and just being yourself, as crazy as others may think that is. That honesty alone makes this book worth reading, and smiling about.