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Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man    by Brian McGrory order for
by Brian McGrory
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Buddy is a memoir written by journalist Brian McGrory. It's about a pet rooster, but he also writes about his transformation from a single man with a well-loved dog, Harry, to a married man with a wife Pam, two young step-daughters (Abigail and Caroline), and the pets that were important to all of them. When his then-girlfriend 'Pam first mentioned Abigail's second-grade science fair project, which involved the incubating and hatching of chicken eggs,' Brian's reaction was mild. Pam said that ]'[iR:their father got them this prepackaged hatching set that comes with an incubator that slowly heats and turns the eggs,' and Brian's reaction was 'that'll be fun for them.'

At that time he and Pam had known each other for many years during which she was the married veterinarian who took care of Harry. They dated for a while after Harry died and her marriage ended and had just gotten back together after a period of separation caused by her feelings of guilt over 'her failed marriage and its impact on her two daughters.' Brian 'was scared out of his mind about pretty much everything that Pam represented: the responsibility, the house in a distant suburban town, the two young girls who were smart, expressive, and lacking even the slightest sign of interest in {him}.'

Later he couldn't understand how he could have missed being able to predict that raising a chicken from an egg was going to involve a strong emotional connection between that chicken and Pam and her daughters, for the entire life of the chicken, however long that would be. What he also couldn't have known was that the sweet, little, downy, yellow chick that hatched would grow up to be a feisty rooster that hated Brian, considered him a threat, and attacked him every chance he got.

Brian spends the first part of this book reminiscing in a loving way about his dog, Harry, who came into his life shortly before his first marriage fell apart. Harry was a perfect dog for Brian, and the two became inseparable during those difficult days and for all the years that Harry lived. I loved reading about Harry, a story that brought back memories of my own favorite dog, as it should in most readers. We learn Brian's history in these first pages as well, which makes the rest of the book understandable and enjoyable.

Poor Brian suffers because of that rooster. He knows how important it is to Pam and her girls, who all fall in love with it as it grows up. Once they know it's a rooster, the problem of keeping crowing poultry emerges; however Buddy's morning outbursts seem to bother Brian much more than they bother either the bird's family or their neighbors. The book is beautifully written, is never that critical of Brian's future family, and contains a lot of humor over his own inability to make peace with the rooster. His subtitle, 'How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man', says it all.

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