And A Dog called Fig is a study of how animals help writers deal with the challenges of the creative process, interspersing the authors own experience with stories of other famous writers and their dogs
And a Dog Called Fig is the story of one writer's life with dogs-including a frisky new puppy, how they are uniquely ideal companions for building a creative life, and a sprinkling of delightful tales about dogs with famous writer palsInto the writer's isolation comes a dog, to sit beside the chair or to lie on the couch while the writer works, to force them outside for a walk, and suddenly, although still lonely, the writer has a companion.
An artist's solitude is a sacred space, one to be guarded and kept apart from the chaos of the world. This isolation allows for uninhibited wandering, uninterrupted meditation, and the nurturing of sparks of inspiration into fires of creation. But in the artist's quiet there is also loneliness, self-doubt, the possibility of collapsing too far inward. What an artist needs is a familiar, a creature perfectly suited to accompany them on this coveted, difficult journey. They need a companion with emotional intelligence, innate curiosity, passion, energy, and an enthusiasm for the world beyond, but also the capacity to sleep contentedly for many hours. What an artist needs, Helen Humphreys would say, is a dog.
And a Dog Called Fig is a memoir of the writing life told through the dogs Humphreys has lived with and loved over a lifetime, culminating with the recent arrival and settling in of Fig, a Vizsla puppy. Interspersed are stories of other writers and their irreplaceable companions: Virginia Woolf and Grizzle, Gertrude Stein and Basket, Thomas Hardy and Wessex-the dog who walked the dining table at dinner parties, taking whatever he liked-and many more.
A love song to the dogs who come into our lives, and all that they bring-sorrow, mayhem, meditation, joy-this is a book about companionship and loss, creativity and the writer's craft, filled with the beauty of a steadfast canine friend and the restorative powers of nature. Just as every work of art is different, every dog is different-with distinctive needs and lessons to offer. If we let them guide us, they, like art, will show us many worlds we would otherwise miss.
Includes Black-and-White Photographs
Helen Humphreys is the author of four books of poetry and five novels, including Leaving Earth, which was a New York Times notable book, and, most recently, The Reinvention of Love. Born in Britain she now lives in Kingston, Canada.