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If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You: True Portraits of Dogs    by Roy Blount Jr. & Valerie Shaff order for
If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You
by Roy Blount Jr.
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2003 (1998)
Hardcover, Softcover

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This charming collection of photographs shows man's - or should I say humans' - best friends in a variety of poses and moods: playful, wistful, pensive. As the author says in his introduction, we can speak for our furred and four-legged friends, but we don't necessarily speak accurately. However, it is hard to dispute most of Blount's interpretations, presented in the form of a delightful poem accompanying each photograph, and expressing the feelings of the subject - at least to human eyes.

One of the great attractions of poetry is that it packs a large punch in a compact form. Blount is an established writer with a reputation for humour. Here he shows his love for dogs as well as his appreciation for what they are. Although most of the poems are light-hearted, he also touches on the sadness in a dog's life. The poem accompanying a photograph of a large dog enduring a chained existence is sensitive and poignant. However, most of the selections celebrate the joys of these large-hearted creatures who embrace life and the moment.

Blount speaks highly of Shaff's expertise as well, and with reason. The photographs are marvellous. They range from dynamic moments captured by Shaff, where the dog's delight will be shared forever with the reader, to contemplative portraits that must surely have gratified the dog's owner even more than the reader. Blount mentions specifically the photographer's talent in conveying the eloquence of dogs' eyes, a talent shown throughout the images in this book.

This little volume will strike a chord with dog-lovers and people who appreciate that there is more than only the human point-of-view. It will bring a smile of appreciation and is a reminder to 'smell the roses' - although dogs would doubtless prefer other things to smell!

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