Nose Down, Eyes Up
By Merrill Markoe
The "official" synopsis describes Nose Down, Eyes Up as "A hilarious novel about a man who won't grow up, his confused relationship with women, and his four (talking) dogs." Of course there's a lot more to it than that, but I won't ruin things by unraveling the book's entire plot. Let's just say by the time you reach The End, a whole lot happens. There's love. Betrayal. Multiple identity crises. Metaphysical discussions about peeing. Oh, and a life-threatening natural disaster that'll keep you hanging on until the last page.
Nose Down, Eyes Up would be a good read even without dramatic plot twists thanks to its enlightened cast of canines. Of all the dogs, pack leader Jimmy is by far the coolest. He's super smart, kinda snarky and if he didn't live in a book, I'd totally hang out with him. See what I'm doing in today's photo? That ridiculously cute nose down, eyes up thing? Learned it from Jimmy.
The human characters in Nose Down, Eyes Up are... interesting. Gil, the alpha-human, is what you might call a bit of a loser. He swears a lot, drinks too much, makes consistently bad choices and lets everyone down as a result. Even when he knows better, Gil heads straight for worse. But he loves his dogs and that goes a long way with me. Besides, without Gil's impressive canine-communication skills, who'd tell the dogs' side of story?
The LA Times called Nose Down, Eyes Up "an amusing time-eater" but I think it's a little more than that. Most humans (including my own) have a hard time creating an authentic "dog voice" but Merrill Markoe is totally fluent in dog. If you don't mind some swearing and Gil's awkward (but brief) attempts at a sex scene or two, think about adding Nose Down, Eyes Up to your summer reading list.