Speck is not a good boy. He is a terrible boy, a defiant, self-destructive, often malodorous boy, a grave robber and screen door moocher who spends his days playing chicken with the Fed Ex man, picking fights with thousand-pound livestock, and rolling in donkey manure, and his nights howling at the moon. He has been that way since the moment he appeared on the ridgeline behind Rick Bragg’s house, a starved and half-dead creature, seventy-six pounds of wet hair and poor decisions.
Speck arrived in Rick’s life at a moment of looming uncertainty. A cancer diagnosis, chemo, kidney failure, and recurring pneumonia had left Rick lethargic and melancholy. Speck helped, and he is helping, still, when he is not peeing on the rose of Sharon. Written with Bragg’s inimitable blend of tenderness and sorrow, humor and grit, The Speckled Beauty captures the extraordinary, sustaining devotion between two damaged creatures who need each other to heal.
The two paragraphs above capture the essence of Rick Bragg’s new book, perfectly. They are taken from Goodreads.
I love Rick Bragg. In fact, I might go so far as to say he is my favorite writer living today. Why? He always makes me laugh. He always tells me a story I can relate to. He is not afraid to make fun of himself. And he brings so much rightness to the page. His last book called WHERE I COME FROM had me in stitches, laughing so hard tears were flowing down my face like a faucet turned on full. I loved every moment of it. The book before that was cooking/biography. He wrote about his mama and her cooking. Wonderful. Everything the man writes turns to platinum.
Bragg lives in his mama’s basement. His desk is exactly eleven steps from where he sleeps. He loves his family. His mama features broadly in this book as in his others. I love reading about her. She sounds like such a tough old broad, but, then you hear about all her animals….So there is that. Bragg tells us about his brother Sam who is battling cancer during the writing of this new book. He tells us a little of his own challenges with cancer and other awful ailments that have tried to keep him down. Speck may have been rescued by Rick, but Rick feels rescued by Speck. I “get” that. All the animals in this book made my heart sing. The wayward donkeys and the mule. The stories will kill you. I devoured this book in one day. I needed it. I needed the laughter, the honesty, and a big dose of Rick Bragg medicine in the form of a book.
Thank you Rick Bragg for yet another wonderful heartfelt book that I will talk about until the cows come home. Don’t ever stop writing. You make so many readers so darn happy.
I read my review copy of THE SPECKLED BEAUTY digitally. It was made available to me through Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf, publisher. This in exchange for an honest review. It’s a wonderful book and perfect as a gift this holiday season. Give copies to everyone! I loved it.