Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Lost Dogs

If you haven't yet seen today's PARADE magazine, you should rifle through the funnies and find it--there's a great excerpt from Jim Gorant's book THE LOST DOGS, and a pit bull on the cover. I read Jim's manuscript a few months ago, and provided this quote for the back jacket:

“Jim Gorant’s remarkably even-handed The Lost Dogs is a gripping story of redemption that uncovers the other side of the Michael Vick story. A portrait of dogs as individuals, caught up in events that reveal the best and worst of human nature, The Lost Dogs will validate dog lovers and possibly transform cynics as well. In the fate of dogs like Jasmine, Leo, and Hector, we can see ourselves—and the complicated world around us.”
—Ken Foster, author of The Dogs Who Found Me


Jim's story began with a Sports Illustrated cover story last year, which made me green with envy until I realized that he was in a much better position than I as far as reversing the stigma people have regarding pit bulls. At this point, people expect me to make the rational argument in their defense. But Jim doesn't own pit bulls; in fact, I'm pretty sure he doesn't own a dog at all. And he's one of the most poker-faced reporters I've ever encountered. He's agenda-free. Which makes his account much more powerful.

Ever since The Dogs Who Found Me came out, I'd been trying to sell a publisher on doing a cultural history of the pit bull. No one wanted it. My own publisher, which bragged of their success with The Dogs Who Found Me, didn't want it, and they also had huge issues with the image of Brando that I wanted on the cover of my follow-up, Dogs I Have Met. They apparently weren't aware that there were pit bulls in The Dogs Who Found Me, as well as one peering out sympathetically from the book's cover.

PARADE magazine also approached me about writing for them, but like many editorial staffs, they had a relatively narrow idea of what would work for their magazine. When I tried to pitch a story about pit bulls and other maligned breeds, it was literally as if they didn't understand a word I was saying. In the end, they assigned me to follow therapy dogs in a nursing home, and then killed the piece, admitting that it hadn't been such a good idea after all. Last year, they ran a small piece by a conservative journalist, asking whether pit bulls should be banned, and skewing the numbers to make it seem that yes, they should. I wrote to the editors that I had worked with to express my disappointment, particularly since they had already heard from me, in my previous pitches, that these statistics were not true. No surprise, I got no response.

So it is great to see THE LOST DOGS on the cover of PARADE, riding high on the Amazon bestseller list with a great line-up of radio appearances coming up--all a month before publication. Maybe things are looking up!

1 comment:

Donna said...

Great review, Ken. Thank you for reading the book and offering your perspective. We all look forward to the next big piece you DO write about pit bulls. When you do, here's hoping we'll see those lesser known but just as victorious bust dogs that have you to thank for their wagging tails.