Memoirs of a Papillon: The Canine Guide to Living With Humans Without Going Mad is the kind of book that I normally donít pick up. I am biased whenever I hear that someoneís dog has written a book. As an unpublished author I get a bit angry that someoneís family pooch has pawed a publishing deal that will keep Rover and his owners rolling in Milkbones. Books such as these usually contain stories that have such a high saccharin level, you know the kind of stories that pet owners inflict on non-pet owners, that theyíre banned by the Diabetic Association.
Is Dennis Friedís book about his papillon Genevieve any different? No. Itís sugary, itís cute and at times it made my eyes roll. But I couldnít put the darn thing down, and that is what Iím really angry about. I read all 158 pages and I took the ďHow Intelligent is Your HumanĒ canine quiz at the back of the book. I did not pass, which may explain why I have a cat and not a dog. How can I maintain my image as serious critic if Iím so easily swayed by the antics of a cheeky dog? Perhaps if I confess my enjoyment of this book it will be purged from my system and I can go back to being a cynic. I mean critic.
The majority of chapters are written from Genevieveís point of view, and she definitely has a strong personality. I found it hard to believe that a young pup would know canine pre-history and have the ability to rant like Dennis Miller about cats. Far-fetched, well, yes. However, she did redeem herself in my eyes when she prevents a State Trooper from giving her owner a speeding ticket. It was at this point that I seriously considered trading in my sixteen-year-old tabby cat for a feisty papillon like Genevieve. Although Genevieve is rather narcissistic, she does let her owner, Dennis, tell his side of the story once in a while. The chapter entitled "Chased by Georges" is particularly funny, but more from a coupleís standpoint than a pet owners. The chapter plays out like a scene from National Lampoonís Family Vacation, with the female partner being the (ignored) voice of reason during a Florida storm that turns into Hurricane Georges. Fried was a stand-up comic and his humour does strike the funny-bone more times than he misses.
If it werenít for the fact that I have a jealous cat, I would give this sugar-coated dog story three stars - but she and I both agreed long ago that a dog story can never beat out a good cat story. So Iím left with no choice but to give Memoirs of a Papillon two-and-a-half stars.