Monday, February 15, 2010

Book Review ~ Wally's World

Wally's World by Marsha Boulton is book #9 in my quest to read and review 13 Canadian books about dogs in a year, as part of John Mutford's Great Canadian Book Challenge. I've been struggling to finish Erika Ritter's The Dog by the Cradle, the Serpent Beneath for about 6 weeks. I decided to take a break with Wally.

Wally is a lovable bull terrier that Boulton and her husband - author Stephen Williams - purchase as a puppy. Wally is always up to something and his antics are sprinkled throughout the book. Carrying pails loaded with balls, undergoing surgery to remove ingested underpants, wrecking a hotel room by humping a feather pillow, and hogging the covers, Wally is clearly a rascal, and one who is likely loved all the more for his rascally behaviour. However, Boulton herself sums up her approach to the book about three pages from the end: "How could I have managed through [the problems of the past 10 years] without having [Wally's] mug to smile at every morning?" While the stories about Wally are fun to read, the book's focus is the legal wrangles that Boulton and Willimas went through following the publication of his two books about Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka. Some Wally stories - such as the underpants - stand on their own; but many others are only tangential to the main plot.

Boulton previously won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour for Letters from the Country. While Wally's World didn't elicit any guffaws from me, I did have to smile a lot at that Wally Boy. Boulton is an engaging writer and this read was definitely easier than Ritter's. Some things made me uncomfortable - I wearied of reading how nasty the police were to Boulton and Williams (I get it already!); and some comments Boulton made about her mother seemed cutting rather than funny. The book's cover boasts snippets of several glowing reviews, including one from The Globe and Mail on the front: "A gripping memoir." If you're in the market for a light memoir, this is it. If you're looking for a "dog book" you might find the main plot a disappointment. For me, it's not a keeper. If you want my copy, shoot me an email; otherwise I will release it as part of the bookcrossing program.