Reading Life Editor

Of dogs and bookstores, Rash likes 'em ugly

November 17, 2012 

  • ‘My Bookstore’ signing Carrie Ryan (“The Forest of Hands and Teeth”) will sign copies of “My Bookstore” at 7 p.m. Monday at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Maybe you’re one of Ron Rash’s biggest fans. You’ve read all his books, from his debut short-story collection, “The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth,” to his latest novel, “The Cove.”

You know a lot about the man, but I bet you didn’t know this: He owns one of the orneriest, ugliest dogs you’ve ever seen.

I say this after reading Rash’s essay about his dog, Pepper, in a new book from Spartanburg’s Hub City Press, “Literary Dogs & Their South Carolina Writers.”

The book includes 25 pieces by authors with S.C. ties, including Dorthea Benton Frank, Josephine Humphreys and Mary Alice Monroe, who introduce us to canines they have known and mostly loved. Some, such as a feral dog that novelist Dot Jackson refers to as “Yellow Dog,” were passing acquaintances. Others, such as Humphrey’s white poodle, Archie, are part of the family.

Then there’s Pepper. “Pepper was and is an amalgam of not only breeds,” Rash writes, “but also seemingly species: pointed bat ears, bulging salamander eyes, and a mouthful of small sharp teeth as you would find on a piranha.”

Pepper uses his piranha teeth to bite people. Lots of people. And yet, Rash feels a fondness for this unlovable mutt. I’ll bet readers will feel that fondness, too.

The book is $19.95. Its editors are Hub City Press Executive Director Betsy Wakefield Teter and John Lane, one of its founders. Some book proceeds go to an animal charity.

A book about bookstores

Once you finish reading about writers’ favorite dogs, you can learn about writers’ favorite bookstores.

In “My Bookstore” (Black Dog & Leventhal; $23.95), authors write about bookshops across the nation where they browse, read and shop.

Carolinas stores and writers are well represented. There’s Jill McCorkle on Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, Laurent Dubois on Durham’s Regulator, Lee Smith on Hillsborough’s Purple Crow Books and Angela Davis-Gardner on Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh. Bestselling young-adult author Carrie Ryan writes about Charlotte’s Park Road Books, and Ron Rash (again!) writes about Sylva’s City Lights Bookstore. In South Carolina, Mindy Friddle writes about Greenville’s Fiction Addiction store.

Pam Kelley: 704-358-5271; pkelley@charlotteobserver.com

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