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Walking in Circles Before Lying Down: A…
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Walking in Circles Before Lying Down: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Merrill Markoe

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4692622,081 (3.4)1 / 24
Member:alynnk
Title:Walking in Circles Before Lying Down: A Novel
Authors:Merrill Markoe
Info:Villard (2007), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:@read: own, February, 2009, dogs

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Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe (2006)

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Walking in Circles Before Lying Down
by Merrill Markoe

Clever story about Dawn Tarnauer, a twice-divorced Californian who can't seem to catch a break, either in life or love. She has terrible instincts and judgment about people, stemming from being surrounded by narcissists her whole life. Her sister, Halley, is the same in that she has a strange history of picking the wrong men, including an infamous killer, whom she is sure is being framed. To know Halley for any length of time was to know that she had a sociopath tracking device where her heart was supposed to be. Dawn is surrounded by users, including those she should be able to rely on the most. It is full of so many examples of selfish and insensitive behavior by her parents and her sister, among others, that you start to feel the craziness she goes through. There is no dealing with people like this. Resistance is futile.

In the midst of her despair after yet another relationship has ended, she finds herself having one-sided conversations with her dog, Chuck. He is the only being she feels comfortable with. She talks to him and vents her frustrations about life until one day he talks back and tries to convince her to let him help her make better decisions by using the years of instinctive skill he can provide. She's sure she's losing her mind but over time just goes with it as she realizes she can hear other dogs as well and can communicate with all of them. The author's imagination about their thought processes and her vision of their voices and personalities is pretty funny.

There is a running joke throughout the book about how aspiring writers should follow certain rules, including using visual statements that grab the readers' attention. The joke is well-done as it pops up at perfect moments. That being said, the author followed that rule in a stupendous fashion, as there are certain moments that are so well written--the comic timing and/or imagery produced is really excellent.

It was in the middle of an acid rain of unsolicited advice from Halley that I met my second husband, Jake.

Right behind her was a guy who looked like one of the tousle-haired "Alive with Pleasure" people from the Newport cigarette billboards. He was tall, square-jawed, ready to put on a pair of Dockers and laugh heartily at the innocent pleasures of a sprinkler in summer with his shirtless buds from Abercrombie & Fitch.

(Dad:) "I thought things were going good." (Dawn:) "That's the kiss of death," I said. "The only way to make love last is to want it over."

Relationship advice from her Peter Pan rockabilly dad:

"But as you get older, come to find out the best things in life are quick. It took a few decades, but I finally achieved my life's goal of combining marital bliss with a one-night stand."

And finally, thoughts from someone she'll discover is actually good to know and shows promise. (Dawn:) "Does anybody have a family that functions like a family?" (Friend:) "I think so, but my theory is that the 'good family people' hang out with other 'good family people'. Those of us born into the nutcase class seek representatives of our caste to make us feel normal." Truth.

My thoughts are that this is a story that is cute but not cutesy. It is lighthearted and humorous but also has heavier undertones. It links the fictional characters with celebrities famous or infamous that we actually know about in real life in a funny way (even when referencing real-life tragedies). It also covers heavier matters of dealing with toxic people, struggling with depression, and with the unease of being temporarily jobless or homeless. Those darker moments are lightened up with the humor of the conversations with the dogs and hearing them explain why they do some of the things they do, being reminded of the silly antics of puppies and the boundless joy of happy dogs, and the eventual hope that Dawn is finally getting her life on track. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Jan 30, 2016 |
I read this right after Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card, so I was definitely up for something lighter, and for a short while my mood and the humor of the book carried me along quite nicely.

Then the characters started to get on my nerves. The protagonist is a whiny doormat. If she ever fully came to her senses she'd leave her self-deluded, pushy sister; her ego-centric mother; and on and off opportunistic boyfriend in a second. Instead we have to suffer through waiting for the boyfriend to leave her, her mother's get rich scheme to bear fruit, and her sister to become famous enough to lose interest. Yes, this book is just a tad short on character development.

In a nutshell, it's a sitcom put to paper, so one shouldn't expect much character development. Still, it's one thing to half-watch 20 minutes (taking out the commercials) of something as insipid as Friends, but quite another to have to devote my attention to a 270 page book of the same.

Still, it was rather funny in places, and that earns it two stars instead of one.
( )
1 vote qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
I read this right after Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card, so I was definitely up for something lighter, and for a short while my mood and the humor of the book carried me along quite nicely.

Then the characters started to get on my nerves. The protagonist is a whiny doormat. If she ever fully came to her senses she'd leave her self-deluded, pushy sister; her ego-centric mother; and on and off opportunistic boyfriend in a second. Instead we have to suffer through waiting for the boyfriend to leave her, her mother's get rich scheme to bear fruit, and her sister to become famous enough to lose interest. Yes, this book is just a tad short on character development.

In a nutshell, it's a sitcom put to paper, so one shouldn't expect much character development. Still, it's one thing to half-watch 20 minutes (taking out the commercials) of something as insipid as Friends, but quite another to have to devote my attention to a 270 page book of the same.

Still, it was rather funny in places, and that earns it two stars instead of one.
( )
  qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
amusing little book about a woman with horrible taste in men learning to cope with life from the mouth of her dog, Chuck. Dawn Tarnauerhas two short marriages under her belt and is trying to find and keep #3. Her mother is trying out her new get-rich-quick-scheme with a not too honest new man in her life and her flighty sister,Halley, has become a Life Coach simply because she can't do anything else.
Chuck is her new dog who has neuroses of his own,especially his belief that Dawn loved her first dead dog more than him. The difference is Chuck doesn't suffer in silence. he tells Dawn exactly what he thinks and seems utterlt bewildered by human ways.
A touching portrait of the bond between man and dog filled with humor and zany characters. A thoroughly enjoyable quick read. You will delight in this author's writing. ( )
  elliezann | Aug 19, 2010 |
This was a mildly amusing tale (ha!)but full of a little too much angst in the character of Dawn for my tastes. But it was fine to read when recovering from the flu and wanting something light. I've often wondered what dogs were thinking, because I'm sure it's more than the classic cartoon that has parts of the brain outlines as sleep. roll over, hump leg, fetch, etc. A good dog is hard to find and Dawn was blessed with two, one of which she was smart enough to listen to. ( )
  bookczuk | Mar 23, 2010 |
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I think one of the things that makes me unique is that as far back as I can remember, I have always talked to a lot of things besides people.
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. . . If you live your life basing your opinions on someone on other people's complaints, you'd soon find yourself with no members of the human race to love.
Maybe that was why God didn't like us, I thought. He was sick to death after a million years of listening to a billion souls whine about one another. Maybe even He didn't know how to believe.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812975464, Paperback)

Dawn Tarnauer’s life isn’t exactly a success story. Already twice divorced, the young Californian is too busy job-hopping to start a career, her current boyfriend insists on living “off the grid,” her Life Coach sister perpetually interferes with incomprehensible affirmations, her eccentric mother is busy promoting the culmination of her life’s work: The Every Holiday Tree, and her father is ending his brief third marriage while scheduling two dates for the same night.

Dawn’s only source of security and comfort, it seems, is Chuck, a pit-bull mix from the pound. So, when her boyfriend announces that he’s leaving her for another woman, a despairing Dawn turns to Chuck for solace.
“I should have said something sooner,” Chuck confides, as he tries to console her. “Couldn’t you smell her on his pants?” Dawn is stunned. It’s one thing to talk to your pets, but what do you do when they start talking back? It’s not just Chuck, either; she can hear all dogs–and man’s best friend has a lot to say. The ever-enthusiastic Chuck offers his tried-and-true advice on the merits of knocking over garbage and strewing it everywhere, auxiliary competitive peeing etiquette, and the curative powers of tossing a ball. Doubtful of her own sanity, Dawn considers that, in the ways of life and love, it might be better to trust Chuck’s doggie instincts instead of her own.

Filled with sharp wit, biting humor, and canine conversation that would make Doctor Dolittle’s jaw drop, Merrill Markoe’s engaging, cleverly written novel is about the confusing search for love and the divine acts of dog.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

With her life rapidly falling apart in the wake of two divorces and her boyfriend dumping her, Dawn discovers that Chuck, a mixed-breed dog she had adopted from a local animal shelter, can talk and that he may have some solutions to her problems.

(summary from another edition)

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