Travels With Casey

Travels With Casey

3.3 8
by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

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A moody Labrador and his insecure human take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs.

“I don’t think my dog likes me very much,” New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis confesses at the beginning of his journey with his nine-year-old Labrador-mix, Casey. Over the next

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A moody Labrador and his insecure human take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs.

“I don’t think my dog likes me very much,” New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis confesses at the beginning of his journey with his nine-year-old Labrador-mix, Casey. Over the next four months, thirty-two states, and 13,000 miles in a rented motor home, Denizet-Lewis and his canine companion attempt to pay tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world.

On the way, Denizet-Lewis—known for his deeply reported dispatches from far corners of American life—meets an irresistible cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans. Denizet-Lewis and Casey hang out with wolf-dogs in Appalachia, search with a dedicated rescuer of stray dogs in Missouri, spend a full day at a kooky dog park in Manhattan, get pulled over by a K9 cop in Missouri, and visit “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan in California. And then there are the pet psychics, dog-wielding hitchhikers, and two nosy women who took their neighbor to court for allegedly failing to pick up her dog’s poop.

Travels With Casey is a delightfully idiosyncratic blend of memoir and travelogue coupled with an exploration of a dog-loving America. What does our relationship to our dogs tell us about ourselves and our values? Denizet-Lewis explores those questions—and his own canine-related curiosities and insecurities—during his unforgettable road trip through our dog-loving nation.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Bronwen Dickey
As an entertaining, somewhat whimsical glimpse into life with dogs in the 21st century, the story covers a tremendous amount of ground, literally and figuratively…Denizet-Lewis is warm, often hilarious company, and he does an impressive job of wrangling enough research to put his encounters into meaningful context.
Publishers Weekly
New York Times Magazine writer Denizet-Lewis spent four months driving around America with his Labrador mix Casey to paint a portrait of Americans and their love affair with dogs. The result is an engaging account that covers the gamut, from aggressive dog owners at an NYC dog park, ruminations on how dogs get their names (a surprising number are named after Grateful Dead songs), San Franciscans who practice yoga alongside their dogs, and the curious Black Dog Syndrome, which makes it much harder for black dogs to get adopted from shelters. It’s not all sweet anecdotes and wagging tales: Denizet-Lewis has some hard questions for Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA, regarding their high number of euthanizations, and his account of time spent in the euthanasia room at a shelter in Texas is rough going, but these and other stories are part of the picture as well, and each of Denizet-Lewis’s subjects are treated with compassion. Comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are obvious, but this is an entirely different and equally rewarding piece of work that expands with each page without losing its narrative thread or the reader’s interest. Agent: Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary. (July)
A.J. Jacobs
“Benoit Denizet-Lewis has written about some pretty strange and fascinating people in his career, but no group is more entertaining than Dog People. Benoit captures this group with warmth and wit in Travels With Casey. Sit! Read! Enjoy!”
David Sheff
“Dog lovers will be entranced by Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ Travels with Casey, but so will everyone, because it’s a book about all of us and a book about America. His observations are funny and poignant and the writing is exquisite.”
Alexander Chee
Travels With Casey is a fascinating, clear-eyed, must-read dog book. Benoit takes us on a journey into that very sentimental, very American dog-human relationship, and the result is a dog book like no other.”
Kevin Sessums
“Casey takes his place alongside Charley and Tulip and Skip as Denizet-Lewis takes his alongside John Steinbeck and J.R. Ackerley and Willie Morris. Travels with Casey is a book for dog lovers that reaffirms why we love them so. And it is a book for misanthropes that will restore their faith in humanity.”
Dean Koontz
Travels with Casey is a charming, touching, human and humane book. The author’s self-deprecating humor, his keen eye for the truth of the people he encounters, his respect for those who live in what too many others might call ‘fly-over country,’ and his affection for dogs make this a unique book.”
Susan Cheever
“I couldn’t stop reading Travels with Casey until I had to walk the dog. It’s an adventure story, a love story, and a brilliant commentary on dog literature from J.R. Ackerley to Cesar Millan. Everyone who has a dog will love this book.”
"Book of the Week: The abundance of fun facts makes [Denizet-Lewis's] journey well worth sharing."
The Los Angeles Times - Ken Foster
"Denizet-Lewis is a master at effortlessly weaving bits of research into his narrative. . . . An intentionally intellectual, geographically expansive analysis of dog culture."
Open Letters Monthly - Steve Donoghue
"A sparklingly entertaining portrait of the dog-besotted United States. . . . Casey is a good dog, and [Denizet-Lewis] is a good writer, and as Steinbeck knew, that’s always a bankable combination."
"Book pick of 'The Culture.'"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Amanda St. Amand
“Dog people will fall in love with Travels with Casey. . . . Even if you are indifferent to dogs, you will be charmed by this book.”
Chicago Tribune - Trine Tsouderos
"Benoit Denizet-Lewis' Travels with Casey is a lot like Casey, the 9-year-old dog of the title—fun, sweet and a little neurotic."
Lambda Literary - Gena Hymowech
"Unlike other dog books that focus simply on training or on an author’s personal experience, Travels with Casey gives us a little bit of everything—it’s an adventure tale, a psychological study, a history lesson, a trend piece, and a hard-hitting news story all in one. It’s funny, fast-paced, life-affirming, moving, and satisfying—in other words, everything a great road trip is supposed to be."
Modern Dog
"This engaging and illuminating book chronicles New York Times writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis four-month journey through the United States with his beloved Labrador, Casey, in tow. . . . A thoroughly engrossing look at our enduring love affair with man’s best friend."
USA Today
"USA Today Hot Summer Author."
Woman's Day
“A great read.”
Country Living
“Here's a book you'll want to dog-ear. . . . Recommended reading.”
“A thoroughly engaging and often hilarious investigation of the therapeutic nature of our relationships with dogs.”
Library Journal
★ 11/01/2014
For four months, Denziet-Lewis and Casey, his Labrador mix, travel through 32 states and cover 13,000 miles, exploring the "most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world" and "meet[ing] an irresistible cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans." En route, the author encounters dogs who are the object of custody battles; a high school teacher-turned-canine massage therapist, and homeless people and their pups. Denziet-Lewis is a natural storyteller. Sometimes, the stories are funny and quirky, but often they are heart-wrenching, referencing abuse, abandonment, and kill shelters. (LJ 8/14)
Kirkus Reviews
Man and dog take to the road.Hoping to "celebrate the breadth of human-dog relationships in contemporary life," journalist Denizet-Lewis (Writing and Publishing/Emerson Coll.; American Voyeur: Dispatches from the Far Reaches of Modern Life, 2010, etc.) chronicles a four-month trip with his Labrador mix, Casey. In a small RV, the two traveled from Provincetown, Rhode Island, to Florida, across the South, through the Midwest to California and back. Along the way, Denizet-Lewis met show dogs and strays, police dogs and pampered pets, and he visited with dog rescuers, trainers, groomers, whisperers, masseurs, photographers and healers. He talked with people suffering from cynophobia (fear of dogs) and others who claimed they could communicate with dogs and translate their messages to humans. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the author visited with dog-loving writer Amy Hempel, who advocates for shelter dogs and pit bulls, which are rarely adopted. Shelter workers tell him that black dogs, also, are hard to place. "Many people subconsciously overlook them," one shelter worker told Denizet-Lewis, a phenomenon she calls Black Dog Syndrome. The author's saddest encounter with dogs occurred on a Navajo reservation, where strays abound, and teenagers run over dogs just for sport. From there, Denizet-Lewis left with a new companion, whom he named Rezzy. In North Carolina, he met Rob, an owner of wolfdogs, a combination of wolf and, in this case, Husky. Rob told him that wolves "are shy and misunderstood," "independent" and "smart as hell," although they are not affectionate. Unconditional love, though, is what most dog owners desire. The author discovered that whether dogs are capable of love is a subject of much controversy. Some neuroscientists argue that canines do feel love; others think dogs are interested more in treats than in human companionship.With Americans owning more dogs than any other country in the world, this sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership.

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Benoit Denizet-Lewis is a writer with The New York Times Magazine and an assistant professor of writing and publishing at Emerson College. He is the author of Travels With Casey, America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life, and has contributed to Sports Illustrated, The New Republic, Details, Slate, Salon, Out, and many others. Denizet-Lewis lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Follow him @BenoitDLewis.

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