Uggie: My Story by Uggie and Wendy Holden (Gallery Books, 231 pages, 2012, $14.99)
Another “You can’t tell a book by its cover” book is Uggie. A strikingly adorably-classy cover shot of a Jack Russell Terrier (JRT or Jack or even Russell) - sporting a $60,000 18-carat gold bone charm with his name inscribed and a black bow-tie collar - will have you looking at this book twice at your favorite neighborhood independent bookstore. I looked twice and finally bought it but found the book took too long to read.
Written from the point of view of a dog, which I normally simply eat up, Uggie simply took too long to read.
“Who is Uggie?” you may be asking yourself, as did I. He lived with Colombian-born Omar, a balanced trainer, and an entourage of dogs. Uggie is the dog in the YouTube Christmas short of a JRT in his backyard setting out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa before looking into the sky for the man, beseeching him for a gift-bone, before turning around and going into his dog house for a good night’s sleep. And, lo and behold, Santa does come and deliver a huge bone wrapped with a red ribbon. Heartwarming, this short is so cute I have watched it time and time again, even sending it to friends (which I hardly do since I assume their inbox is filled to the brim like mine).
Uggie starred as the dog in the black-and-white silent The Artist, winner of 5 Oscars and numerous other awards worldwide including Cannes, where Uggie won the coveted ‘Palm Dog’ award. Uggie is also the recipient of the American Humane Association’s (AHA’s) Pawscar and Dog News Daily’s Golden Collar. Uggie’s pawprints are even immortalized in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
“Why did Uggie take too long to read?” is another question you may be asking yourself - the answer is that it is too contrived. I was exhausted reading all the repartees that just weren’t all that funny. Too many slightly humorous incidents were written with too much craft and cleverness – so much so that it showed, and took away from any smidgeons of style left. This reviewer certainly didn’t feel like she lived the book. Long sentences and big words do not an enticing book make.
However, if you love the now-classic Christmas short or saw The Artist or have a JRT or remember all the old movie greats (like Pickford, Rinty or Lassie), I might recommend Uggie, if only for the photos here and there throughout. Another saving grace is the short chapter starting on page 191 about Uggie raising money for shelters (and PETA). However the best part may (or may not) be Uggie’s pining for a certain blonde movie star he worked with in Water for Elephants: the pining lasted throughout the book as did my unfulfilled hope that it would get better.