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 some delightful tales about dogs and their famous writers
Into 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 from the chaos of the world, where the sparks of inspiration can be kindled into fires of creation. But within this quiet also lie loneliness, self-doubt, the danger of collapsing too far inward.
An artist needs a familiar, a companion with emotional intelligence, innate curiosity, an enthusiasm for the world beyond, but also the capacity to rest 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, including Fig, her new Vizsla puppy. Interspersed are stories of other writers and their own irreplaceable companions: Virginia Woolf and Grizzle, Gertrude Stein and Basket, Thomas Hardy and Wessex—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, reflection, joy—this is a book about steadfast friendship and loss, creativity and craft, and the restorative powers of nature. Every work of art is different; so too is every dog, with distinctive needs and lessons. And if we let them guide us, they will show us many worlds we would otherwise miss.
Includes Black-and-White Photographs
About the Author
Helen Humphreys is an acclaimed, award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her work includes the novels The Evening Chorus, Coventry, and Afterimage, and the nonfiction books The Ghost Orchard and The Frozen Thames. She has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Toronto Book Award, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Trillium Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads.
“A loveable whirlwind with very sharp teeth, Fig shatters Humphrey’s tranquility but prompts this wise meditation on why dogs make ideal companions for writers.”
“A closely observed portrait of dogs and a meditation on the ways they can enrich humans’ lives.”
—Sarah Watling, Air Mail
“A warm, writerly homage to the consolation of dogs.”
“[A] tender tribute . . . Dog lovers will find this a treat.”
“It’s not often that a book inspires as much as it entertains, but somehow I felt like a better person after reading And a Dog Called Fig. It’s a meditation on solitude, writing, and our connection with dogs. It’s a rich, sumptuous, and brilliant book, and we are all lucky to have it.”
—Patricia B. McConnell, author of The Education of Will
“Helen Humphreys is original and observant about being with dogs, and being with oneself. Her textured, bighearted book is a great pleasure.”
—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
“I read this book with a knowing smile; Helen Humphreys explores the troubles and rewards of animal companionship with great tenderness and insight.”
—Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither
“Dogs are known to be a source of great comfort, and reading about dogs proves the same. In these tumultuous times, this might be just the book you’ve been looking for: part memoir, part meditation, thoughtful, lyrical, and completely wonderful. Long live Fig!”
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves