Well, Alston returned the favor by sending me the finished book when it came out in April. Since I’d already read it in gallys, I left the book on the living-room coffee table, with a passing comment to my wife that she might like to read it.
Did she ever. WGOHDT migrated from the coffee table to our bedside table, then to Mrs. D’s pocketbook, which meant she was taking it to work to read in her lunch break. Then she started talking about it … and talking, and talking. She must have read it through a couple of times at least. She knew the names, personalities, and fates of all the several dogs in the book. Mrs. D is a great reader, with a good literary education and excellent taste, but it’s been a while since a book “took” her like this.
I suggested she communicate her appreciation to the author. I got Alston’s e-address from our mutual friend Steve Bodio. Mrs. D composed and sent a long e-mail to Alston, telling him how much she’d enjoyed the book, and passing on some stories about our own dear departed mutt.
Ten minutes ago I was called downstairs by a very excited Mrs. D. She’d been doing her e-mail and a reply from Alston showed up in her inbox. Not just a boilerplate reply, either, but a long, thoughful e-mail trading dog reminiscences, recommending books, and generally appreciating my wife’s appreciation.
What a gent! Author-response-wise, he puts me to shame. I’m not normally a big fan of what Orwell called “literary back-scratching” (i.e. authors recommending their friends’ books), but if you, or someone you know that’s in need of a gift, ever loved and lost a pooch, buy Alston’s book!
 I had dinner last night at the Leash Club in midtown Manhattan. Never been in there before. Lovely place, quiet & inconspicuous, with liquor lockers for members’ bottles, a private-club custom left over from Prohibition. The Leash is so classy they have no website — that’s as classy as you can get nowadays. A google turned up only this. I think I’ve been inside most of the New York private clubs at one time or other, but the Leash is now top of my favorites list.