Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guest Post: Charlie: A Love Story by Barbara Lampert

Today I have author Barbara Lampert on the blog discussing her memoir, Charlie: A Love Story. 

How does your book compare to other pet memoirs out there? Why would I pick up yours over any other?

Before I answer your questions, I want to thank you so much for having me on your site. I love having the opportunity to connect with more people and let them know about Charlie and his story. And may I also preface my answer by letting you know that I love all dogs tremendously and have throughout my life. They’re my passion! A reason you might choose my dog memoir, Charlie: A Love Story, over others is that it is in part the culmination of all that love and in my mind, as I said in the dedication to my book, is a tribute not only to Charlie but also to all dogs.

I strongly believe that Charlie: A Love Story, about my extraordinary Golden Retriever Charlie, is very different from all the other dog memoirs I’ve read or seen. And that’s been a lot of them. Dog memoirs are of great interest to me, not just because I wrote one but because of how much I love dogs and love reading stories about them.

While I believe there are a number of ways in which my book is set apart from other pet memoirs, there’s one way that particularly stands out in my mind: I don’t know of another dog memoir that’s been written by a psychotherapist who actually specializes in relationships, which in fact is who I am and what I’ve been licensed to do. From counseling people for more than twenty years, I know what makes for a good relationship, and I tell Charlie’s story from that perspective. Charlie and I had a great relationship, with so much reciprocity and empathy for one another. Hopefully people will be encouraged, after reading Charlie: A Love Story, to feel ok about having deeply meaningful relationships not only with their dogs but also with any other pets. Much to my delight, my readers often tell me that’s what has happened for them.

There are a number of other ways in which my book is different from other pet memoirs and why you might pick up my book Charlie: A Love Story instead of another dog memoir.

If you want a dog memoir where the story is mostly about the dog, then my book is for you. It’s first and foremost Charlie’s story. There’s not much about me or my husband or any one else. There are a number of anecdotes, but those are mostly about Charlie’s younger days, with only a few anecdotes about his pack members and one about a vacation we all take. There are no ongoing side stories about me or anyone else, except for background descriptions of my garden and gardening activities, because Charlie’s story evolved out of my gardening journal. I like what Alan Caruba, a book reviewer from Bookviews, had to say about Charlie :A Love Story: “It is a great relief to read a memoir that does not involve some kind of confession regarding the numerous ways people find to screw up their lives.” I tell Charlie’s story the way I think Charlie would want it to be told, always giving him the respect his nobility deserves. 

That Charlie’s story came out of my gardening journal is another unique aspect that differentiates my book from other dog memoirs. Surrounding Charlie’s story are various references not only to my garden and to gardening activities but also to the lessons to be found in caring for a garden and to the miracle of growth and beauty that are very much a part of the gardening experience. That miracle provides a contrasting background for Charlie’s later years. My garden and gardening activities together make for a very interesting, beautiful, and unusual juxtaposition to the telling of Charlie’s story, and I’ve received so many positive comments already about this aspect of my book.

Also, because I did not intend to publish the gardening journal entries that led to Charlie’s story but instead was writing just for Charlie and for me, most of that writing is uncensored and very intimate. And Charlie’s story is told as it was actually happening – I certainly didn’t know what was coming, which is apparent in the story. In contrast, every dog memoir I’ve ever read is told after-the-fact.

Anther differentiation of my book from other dog memoirs, and a reason you might pick it over others is that, while it’s very real, at the same time it’s told in an often artistic, sometimes dreamlike style. Many of its sentences are fragments, resulting in a colloquial shorthand, as you might expect to find in a not-for-publication journal. And surrounding Charlie’s story with garden images reinforces that mood.

Many people have told me how heartwarming, heartfelt, and moving my book was for them. Here’s what some of them have said about why you might choose my pet memoir over others. Vicki Newell, a blogger, wrote, “This was the most honest, touching book about a relationship with a dog that I’ve ever read.” I often hear that people have fallen in love with Charlie, and that, as I said earlier, reading his story was a wonderful experience that helped them with their lives and in their relationships, particularly with their dogs. Others have found many messages embedded in Charlie: A Love Story, for example that it is a blueprint for dealing with life’s challenges and, as Cyrus Webb of Conversations LIVE! says, that Charlie’s story is “a true testament of friendship and resilience.” Fran Lewis of Goodreads states: “Charlie has a special glow, energy, strength that most of us wish we had in times of illness, strife and stress.” When I hear people talk about Charlie and about what my book has meant to them, it touches me so much.

So if you want a book that is heartwarming and inspiring, that relishes dogs, that pays tribute to not only Charlie but every dog there is or was, that has life lessons embedded in it, then I know Charlie’s story will meet your expectations and probably then some. And I think you too will find that my book is very different from other dog memoirs. It’s a story about an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary relationship, told in a very unusual, affecting, and compelling way.

Again, thank you! It’s been a pleasure.

Charlie: A Love Story
By: Barbara Lampert
Pub. Date: January 16, 2012
Publisher: Langdon St. Press
Pages: 204
Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and the author, Barbara Lampert. It takes place in Malibu, California. When Charlie turned eleven years old and started having some health problems, a journal Barbara was keeping about her garden quickly became mostly about Charlie.

Charlie: A Love Story is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and a human. And as a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, Barbara brings that sensibility and understanding to Charlie’s story as well.

Charlie was Barbara’s loyal confidante and best friend. He was indomitable, had a zest for life and an uncanny emotional intelligence. As Barbara says in her book:

“Charlie’s a big dog, not just physically but in every way. He has a big heart, a big smile, lots of courage, a big appetite, and a great, big, generous spirit. Charlie’s the emotional core of our family, the most solid being I have ever known, and wise beyond his years. Charlie and me. It’s a great love affair, a once-in-a-lifetime connection.”

Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary relationship.

Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology.

Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She considers them the magic on the planet. Barbara has had dogs most of her life and hopes to have at least one by her side always. She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured.

Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty.

Today Barbara lives happily in Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry.

Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere.


  1. I haven't read many pet memoirs, but this one sounds fun and the author obviously has a lot of enthusiasm for it! Thanks for the interview! :D

    1. Liesel, thank you for your comments about Charlie's story! Much appreciated!


  2. Kristina, thanks for hosting Barbara today :)

  3. Kristina,

    Thank you so much for hosting me today! Happy reading to all!

  4. Kristina,

    Thank you so much for hosting me today! Happy reading to all!


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