Monday, August 17, 2009

Randy Sue Coburn & Binx

A Day in the Life of Randy Sue Coburn

By Binx (her floppy-eared terrier)

I am a literary dog not only because an author belongs to me, but because I was named for the narrator of one of her favorite books—"The Moviegoer," by Walker Percy. I’m glad she didn’t name me Walker, which would have been confusing come walk time (“Want to go for a walk, Walker?”), or even worse, Percy, which is much too prissy to suit my personality. She tells me that she considered both.

I hate to hurt my author’s feelings, but if it weren’t for me, a typical day in her life when she’s working on a book would be incredibly boring. For one thing, it always starts the same—with her filling the kettle, grinding a handful of organic French roast coffee beans, and brewing up the morning’s supply in a manual white ceramic drip pot. I wish she’d invest in one of those automatic gizmos that brews coffee so it’s ready the moment her eyes pop open, but good luck trying to get an author to change a ritual (and they say dogs are creatures of habit). The only way she’ll even consider snapping on my leash before the coffee’s ready is if I show signs of urgent need. So I amuse myself with morning stretches and cuddling with her on the couch until that cup is empty.

Then I get her outside for a walk through Seattle’s Pike Place Market, which is just a block north of where we live. Sad to say, more of the fish mongers and green grocers call out to me by name than they do her. I guess on the whole, dogs just have more outgoing dispositions than authors. Not to mention far more discerning noses. I wish I had a rawhide chew for every time I’ve heard my author say, “I’m so jealous of Binx. One little sniff of another dog and he knows exactly who he’s dealing with.”

Before we go home I encourage her to exercise by throwing my tennis ball in the park, though frankly, I do most of the work. But the more tired I get, the better, because after breakfast, things get pretty dull. Bursts of tapping on the keyboard punctuated by long silent spells of staring at the computer screen. She likes to write in bed, so I snooze with my head on her feet. Sometimes she speaks, which always gets my hopes up for quality time together—until I realize she’s just reading aloud what she’s written.

Not to brag, but one of the most interesting characters in her new book, "A Better View of Paradise," is a border terrier named Pip, who is a thinly disguised version of me. He performs some of my most clever tricks, like fetching toys by name and walking on his hind legs for treats. Whenever the other characters in this book get all torqued out by human problems, Pip is there to remind them of what really matters—food and love. I don’t mind being fictionalized. But even if I did, well, let’s just say it would be difficult for me to prove libel.

Still, I am proud to be a literary dog. We play an important part in authors’ lives. There’s Charley (Steinbeck’s poodle), Flush (Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel), and Enzo, the terrier mix who narrates "The Art of Racing in the Rain," a novel written by another Seattle author, Garth Stein. Don’t even talk to me about "Edgar Sawtelle," though, because I can’t get excited about a book in which so many dogs die. Our only flaw is that we don’t live long enough, and I hate to be reminded. Maybe living on in books helps make up for that. That’s what my author says, and I hope she’s right.

Among the early praise for Randy Sue Coburn's new novel:
"As the heroine of A BETTER VIEW OF PARADISE sheds her city trappings and retreats to the island landscape of her childhood, you will feel as though she has tucked you into her suitcase. Randy Sue Coburn writes with a rare combination of crisp intelligence and lush sensuality; her artful storytelling brings together a cast of characters who are as emotionally complex as they are damaged. Reading A BETTER VIEW OF PARADISE, your dreams will be infused—as mine were—with the spicy-sweet scents of island cooking, the mischievous interventions of Hawaiian goddesses, and tropical flowers in bloom."
—Stephanie Kallos, author of BROKEN FOR YOU and SING THEM HOME
Read more about the book and author at Randy Sue Coburn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue