Imagine the kind of small town restaurant/bar where the people know your name, the bartender knows your drink and the waitress knows how you like your burger cooked. Imagine that you can sit there enjoying your food and drink while looking out over a body of water called (no, really) Lake Pensive. Now imagine that you're sitting next to a raconteur who's telling a long, relaxed story about people who come alive in his words and about your favorite kind of dog.
That bar is The Golden Wolf, it's in Wisconsin, and one of the regulars is Jack Magestro. And if you can't get up there to listen to him, we have the next best thing: a new book called Redstripe and Other Dachshund Tales.
Jack has been a Dachshund Delights customer, so when he published his book last month, he was kind enough to send us a copy. We devoured it in one sitting, like a dachshund with a pig's ear.
If you've visited us before, you know that we don't stock books. It's not what we're good at, and we defer to the people at Amazon.com, who are good at it. But if you click on that picture of the cover, you will be taken to just the right place on the Amazon site to buy your own copy, and it's going to be one of the best expenditures of $11.99 you will make this year.
Jack's name might ring a bell with you, since his first publishing about dachshunds was done on dachshund e-mail lists. And if you remember his stories, you'll also remember that they were the high point of any day's postings. Most of us can recall seeing our dogs jumping up and down in front of the door when the doorbell rings. Not many of us have described the scene with "the two of them looked like two elongated brown popcorn kernels bouncing up from the bottom of a stove top pan."
Jack was good enough to answer a few of the questions we posed to him and let us share his responses with you.
Dachshund Delights: The fine print on the copyright page classifies Redstripe as "largely a work of fiction." Which are your creations and which are the real people and dogs?
Jack Magestro: Most of the antics of the hounds are based on my own experience with my own dachs and from stories told to me by my wife about dachshunds she had in her family as a child. I was always a "big dog" guy, but I have fallen in love with these little hounds and we visit various breeders of the breed frequently if for no other reason than to tempt ourselves to take on a few more hounds in the house. Every time I see one on the street, leashed and walking, I stop, leave my car and ask the owner about the dog. I get lots of stuff that way. As to the people, well, as in any publication, one cannot pin down any certain name because of legal stuff. But there is no one in the stories I have not met, though some of them are blends. Cirtron is another matter. That is not his real name but he is a real person. Maddie is also real though that is not her name. The other folks, me, Jill, Jeremy and Kaylie are real. Sheila is based on a person we met in Negril. She had gone there on vacation, met a local and stayed to marry, have a child and open a bread and breakfast sort of place. (One would not call it that in Jamaica, it was rather more a hostel with bugs, but you might get the idea) I will be traveling back to Negril this summer to check on things for the next book.
DD: What became of Belle's pups? Did any remain in your household?
JM: That comes out in the next story/book. Actually I am not sure where that is going just yet. I have not finished. I have not quite decided what will be "story" and what will be "real" but rest assured they are all in good places after wreaking their havoc in our home.
DD: You're taking time from your work on other books to answer these questions. Can we look forward to another volume (or more) of dachshund tales?
JM: Yes, I hope to have it out and available if all goes well and "the creek don't rise" sometime this next fall. It continues the Redstripe story and ends up in Wautoma, Wisconsin with old Mrs. Carson, Redstripe, Paris, Sheila and Cirtron, who end up managing a bison farm. Go figure. The title is set, at this time as Another Redstripe, Please.
DD: Educator, network administrator and off-path Caribbean explorer aren't three items we expect to see on any one person's resume. How did you manage all of that and still have the energy for a dachshund in the house?
JM: Well, first off, I have been on the planet for nearly half a century, so I have had some time to get organized, although organization has not ever been my strong suit. My last secretary was very clear about that. But Jill and I have traveled to lots of places and spent some bucks doing that over the years because life is short. Any of us could get hit by a truck tomorrow and the coffin ain't gonna get lined with our retirement money; that has been our decision about our current lives. As to the various careers, I just guess I can't seem to focus; I have always been learning and seeking. If it is not a challenge it is not of interest. Although I might be tempted to go back to teaching at the college master's level; that was fun.
Thanks, Jack, Your book was fun, too, and we're eager to seek the sequel and learn what happened to the people and dogs we liked so much in Redstripe and Other Dachshund Tales.