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Month: July 2018

Robert Repino

Robert Repino, author of the extraordinary novel Mort(e), did me the great favor of reading The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi, and the even greater favor of providing a quote for my book jacket. Here it is:

“Playful and surreal, heartwarming and heartbreaking, Lark Benobi’s The Book of Dog delivers a story of determination and love in a time of despair. Rather than merely raising a middle finger toward the age of Trump, Benobi prefers to slam it with her fist.”

I’ve noticed on Goodreads that there is a lot of speculation among readers about jacket quotes and how they come about. For sure, sometimes blurbs come about when an editor or agent asks authors on their lists to blurb one another. But I’d like to just say that asking an author you admire to read your still-unpublished book is usually a very personal ask. It’s one author to another author. It’s two people who have never met. It’s somebody with an unpublished book reaching out to an established author whose work she admires, and saying something like: “Excuse me, I think you’ll like my book, will you read it and see?”  And if, in spite of all good sense, that author you’ve asked to read your book replies: ‘yes, I’ll read your book,’ and later, ‘yes, I want to say something nice and on the record about your book,’ then that author is giving a tremendous, open-hearted gift, of both time and reputation. Thank you Robert.

my book cover journey

Here are the cover design blunders and successes for The Book of Dog, from last to first. I was learning Adobe InDesign along the way. Some of these covers are terrible. I really knew nothing in the beginning either about design or about the software. Some of the covers, I learned, looked good on the screen, but not on paper. The first cover, of Stella and Mary Mbwembwe riding together in a car, did not survive the transition from screen to page.

For this last one I went back to my crafty roots, the same as I had done with the first cover, a cover that I had made from sharpies and post-it notes and cut-out letters from magazines. For this last one I cut some dogs out from black construction paper, in the style of the interior drawings. I laid them out on the scanner glass and covered them with tissue paper for the backing. It made me so happy. Just as I was setting up the scan, my cat walked across the scanner glass. She had been outside in the weeds and she and left seeds and dirt on the glass and I just left it there because it seemed appropriate to the book’s theme, to have some help from my animal.

Foreword Reviews weighs in on The Book of Dog

Foreword Reviews will be publishing the below review of The Book of Dog in their September-October magazine and they gave me permission to publish their review in advance here.Lark Benobi unabashedly takes on modern politics in all its bestial madness in The Book of Dog, celebrating the joys of womanhood, diversity, and the wonders of nature.

The apocalypse arrives in California via a yellow puffball mushroom cloud that rises from the Mexican border to blanket the planet. Code-named Agent-T, the cloud turns women into beasts and men into conservative and religious fanatics who denigrate women.
On the same day, a pregnant teenager, Stella, runs away from her aunt’s home and travels to Nethalem to find Lix Tetrax, her baby’s father—alternatively known by the names Lucifer, The Ruler of the Free World, and the seven-headed beast. Stella befriends five women-turned-beasts along the way: the physically deformed Margie; a down-on-her-luck waitress, Wanda; a marine officer, Eureka; an undocumented caretaker, Mary; and the poverty-stricken Josefina. Together, they attempt to stop the seven-headed beast from enacting his malicious agenda.
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of the six women. Their origin stories arise from social, economic, religious, or cultural grievances that play a significant role in their bestial transformations and serve as cleverly constructed metaphors for current affairs. Religious imagery of angels and beasts represents the dividing duality of politics.
The story, which begins in verse, flows effortlessly with concise writing and comedic lyricism. Short sentences are interspersed with longer, stream-of-consciousness passages from the characters in their animal forms: “Even afterhaving lived a mediocre life full of sorrow … you have stayed together through it all, still keeping faith in what it means to love, and be loved.”
The book’s simple, childlike sketches are interspersed between chapters and add to the fantastical ambiance. Images provide clues to each woman’s transformation. Depictions of Stella in free-flowing, form-fitting, belly-baring t shirts are comical yet subtly deliver a message about male domination and male chauvinism.
The Book of Dog may be a crazy kitchen-sink satire of modern politics, but it is also a triumphant tale about marginalized people who work together to effect the greater good.
NANCY POWELL (September/October 2018)
Foreword Review HUMOR FICTION
The Book of Dog
Lark Benobi
Vegetablian Press (Sep 6, 2018)
Softcover $15.95 (214 pp)

buy the book of dog

thinking about changing my cover

it’s the most glorious thing about starting your own small press–that you can repackage any time you want. I was feeling PINK today. Also I found a pair of Fiskar shears in a drawer.