One of this month's best new books is Ask Bob by Peter Gethers. Gethers is known for his charming bestselling memoir, The Cat Who Went to Paris, but this new book is a novel featuring a veterinarian who writes an 'Ask Bob' advice column. When the pet doc suffers some serious setbacks, he realizes that he could use some advice of his own.
Today, Gethers stops by the NOOK Blog to explain why the human/pet relationship is such an important part of his work.
Ask Bob grew out of my interest (some might say obsession) with various things: the meaning of family, the often insane problems that families create, the importance – and the extreme difficulties – of making romantic relationships between human beings work, the complications that stem from our own pasts when they run smack into the complications of the present. But the novel really began to take shape once I decided that, at its core, it had to deal with perhaps my greatest obsession: the relationship between humans and their pets.
I’d always had dogs growing up and I loved them ; from the Irish Setter that showed up when I was about 5 years old, to the cockapoo, Snoopy, we had during my teenage years, to the slobbering Golden Retrievers my parents got once I left the house to go off and become an adult, to the half-cockerspaniel, half tiny sheepdog , my brother had – a genius of a dog named Yossarian, whom I was lucky enough to have in my care one year when my brother was abroad. Yossarian would walk next to me, leashless, in the streets of Greenwich Village and he would wait patiently for me in front of laundromats and bodegas and bookstores while I conducted my necessary human transactions.
But my obsession with and deep, deep connection to our four-legged friends soared to a new level when I became entwined with my now-famous (and extremely handsome) Scottish Fold cat, Norton. I won’t go into too much Norton detail here, but suffice it to say that he walked miles with me without a leash (this is a CAT we’re talking about) and went to restaurants with me (sitting in his own chair), came to the office, traveled around the world by my side on every form of transportation imaginable, had an unerring sense of who was the right female humans to include or not include in my life, and taught me extraordinary lessons throughout his entire life and, ultimately, even while he was dying (in some ways, especially then).
So I guess it’s not surprising that more than ten years after my last book about Norton, I decided to return to writing about the interaction between humans and animals – but this time using fiction to explore the themes I wanted to explore.
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