Alexandra Horowitz, the head scientist at Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab, has conducted a longitudinal observational study on the first year of life of a member of Canis lupus familiaris. In other words, like many others, Horowitz got a pandemic puppy. And she paid a lot of attention to that puppy, whom she and her family named Quiddity, or Quid, meaning “essence of.” She chronicles this in “The Year of the Puppy,” a book with an unsurprisingly adorable cover.
Since Horowitz already had two dogs, a cat, and a son, her motivation for getting a puppy is somewhat convincingly presented as being in the service of science. Horowitz has written several popular books about dogs and dog science: “Our Dogs, Ourselves,” “Being a Dog,” and “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.” In her new book, Horowitz’s goal is to think and write about dogs in a way that is distinct from usual pet-related fare about how to teach a puppy not to lunge at children and not to increase your household paper-towel budget. Instead, she aims to try to better understand a young dog, from Day One to day three hundred and sixty-five, as a being in transformation. She wants to write about puppies developmentally.
“Will the day come where there are no more secondhand bookshops?” the poet, essayist, and bookseller Marius Kociejowski asks in his new memoir, “A Factotum in the Book Trade.”
He suspects that such a day will not arrive, but, troublingly, he is unsure. In London, his adopted home town and a great hub of the antiquarian book trade, many of Kociejowski’s haunts—including his former employer, the famed Bertram Rota shop, a pioneer in the trade of first editions of modern books and “one of the last of the old establishments, dynastic and oxygenless, with a hierarchy that could be more or less described as Victorian”—have already fallen prey to rising rents and shifting winds.
Kociejowski dislikes the fancy, well-appointed bookstores that have sometimes taken their place. “I want chaos; I want, above all, mystery,” he writes. The best bookstores, precisely because of the dustiness of their back shelves and even the crankiness of their guardians, promise that “somewhere, in one of their nooks and crannies, there awaits a book that will ever so subtly alter one’s existence.” With every shop that closes, a bit of that life-altering power is lost and the world leaches out “more of the serendipity which feeds the human spirit.”
It can be hell finding one’s way across an extensive boggy moor—the partially dry, rough ground and the absence of any landmarks let the eye rove helplessly into the monotype distance. Everything undulates, the rise and fall share the same muted palette, and the senses dull.
But a swamp is different: in it, in addition to water, there are trees and shrubs, just as reeds and rushes are the hallmarks of a marsh. Although water and squelch are everywhere in a swamp, there are landmarks—downed trees or jagged stumps, a tenanted heron nest, occasional islands of high-ground hardwood stands, called “hammocks” in the South.
Yet the swamp traveler goes not in a straight line but slouches from quaking island to thick tussock to slippery, half-submerged log. Even with G.P.S. technology, big swamps are places to get lost, and in the past many people with a reason to melt out of sight—Native Americans threatened out of their territory, runaway slaves, Civil War army deserters, moonshiners, and bloody-handed murderers—have hidden in them. For a few seconds, I once considered hiding in a swamp myself.
The first person I met at the Bar & Chill was a bald guy in a black T-shirt, black drawstring shorts, and flip-flops, with a Harley-Davidson tattoo on his right arm and a claddagh ring on his left hand.
He was drinking and laughing with a few friends. He gestured to the empty stool next to him and said, “We don’t bite.”I offered an expression of if-you-insist, and he said, “Bring it.”
His tone was cheerful, as you might expect at the Bar & Chill, the principal drinking-and-dining establishment that looks out on the town center of Latitude Margaritaville, an active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, aged “55 and better,” in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Bar & Chill was open to the evening. A gentle breeze fanned the lanai. On a flat-screen, the Providence Friars led the Vermont Catamounts by a few buckets. A bartender brought a Perfect Margarita in a plastic cup.
The Grolier Club, a private society for bibliophiles on the Upper East Side, with its marble foyer and dark wood-panelled gallery, would be a fine stage for a nineteenth-century fictional murder, perhaps done in the library with a candlestick, most certainly involving a will.
On January 12th, an exhibit called “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” opened there. It features a proper Baker Street-number of items from the collection of Glen S. Miranker, a former executive at Apple, who has been buying all manner of things Holmesian since 1977.
There are a number of Arthur Conan Doyle’s letters; an “idea book” in which he jotted notes for possible future stories; and a never-before-displayed speech, written by hand, in which Conan Doyle talks about why he killed off Holmes. There are also handwritten manuscript pages and a pirated copy of “The Sign of the Four,” which Conan Doyle apparently signed, despite loathing the pirating practice.