For readers who like to keep two or more books going at a time, a book like Bob Tarte's is a special treasure. His riotous good humor offers a diverting glance into "someone else's" problematic household, while his fresh prose, entertaining insights into animal and human behavior, and escalating domestic drama keep the pages turning. Enslaved by Ducks is Tarte's delectably original record of his self-conscious, reflective evolution from a carefree, urban bachelor to a devoted rural husband who becomes the increasingly subordinate caretaker of countless pets.
Tarte's charming animal anecdotes provide a cover for his lack of expertise as an opinionated, if ill-informed, world music critic who feathers out his music column with duck stories from his household menagerie. As with all good animal books, the mysterious characteristics of the "alien beings" provide insight into the human condition; and Tarte's willingness to let the reader in on the darkest hours of pet care gives his debut an emotional punch that sharpens its humor and heightens its many giddy highs. A visit to the Tartes' Michigan home, inhabited by a multiplying horde of demanding ducks, geese, turkeys, parakeets, parrots, rabbits, cats, and starlings will dumbfound and delight, before the laughter it provokes will rob you of your seat. (Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)