Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Have Heard You Calling in the Night

by Thomas Healy
Finished August 2010

This book was a pre-publication paperback that I found in the breakroom at work. The title caught my eye as well as the drawing of a dog on the cover. The description helped sell me:

Thomas Healy was a drunk, a fighter, sometimes a writer, often unemployed, no stranger to the police. His life was going nowhere but downhill. Then one day he bought a pup - a Doberman. He called him Martin. Gradually man and dog became unshakable allies, the closest of comrades, the best of friends. Martin, in more ways than one, saved Thomas Healy's life.

I love stories about dogs anyway, especially stories about the bond betweeen dog and human. But I held onto this book for a while before I finally read it.

It's an unusual book. The author's writing style is very colloquial and not very polished. Healy has written a book called The Hurting Business (about boxing) and two novels - Rolling and It Might Have Been Jerusalem. I haven't seen these other books, don't really know who published them, and don't know if they were ever widely read. If I didn't see the publisher name Harcourt on the back of the book, I'd have thought it was a self-published memoir.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book. It was interesting and touching. Thomas Healy, as the back cover blurb says, was a drunk and a trouble maker. On a pure drunken whim he bought a Doberman pup from an unscrupulous man and named him Martin. Healy saved Martin's life and Martin returned the favor. For some reason, having this dog was just the impetus he needed to stop his drinking. He would drink again, on occasion, and realistically remained an alcoholic. But, he wasn't an active drunk.

This isn't really a dog book. Martin is the miracle that changed the diretion of Healy's life, but the
one who was "calling in the night" is God. This is more the spiritual memoir of someone searching for something deep and lasting. Healy may not be a deeply religious person, even now. But the reader can see God working throughout his life in so many ways, calling him patiently.

I'm glad I finally picked the book up after having it on my shelf for at least two years.

No comments: