Cover Image: The Speckled Beauty

The Speckled Beauty

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Member Reviews

Rick Bragg brings his undeniable magic touch to this book. It’s about 2 “underdogs” - Rick and his stray dog Speckle who both bring out the best in each other even though the both bravely carry scars of their life. A truly beautiful story that dog lovers will relate too.
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Everything Rick Bragg writes is magic, and this book was no different. I hated to put it down. This book depicts the beautiful relationship between man and dog.
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I enjoyed the voice of Rick Bragg and this tale of his unique dog. This is a story that any dog-lover would enjoy. Although Speck is a little wild and unpredictable, he shares his love unconditionally and is present for humans who need him, as so many dogs are. I found this at times hilariously funny and also sweet and touching.
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The Speckled Beauty 
by Rick Bragg 
Pub Date: September 21, 2021 
Knopf Publishers 
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.
This is a 5 star book.  Thanks to Knopf Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the ARC. 
I recommend this for animal lovers and lovers of humanity. 

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Written in the rich vernacular of the south, this love letter  by Rick Bragg to his very bad dog, Speck, is also a loving tribute to his older brother Sam. The book ends as the family prepares for Christmas 2020. As I explored further, I came upon Sam’s obituary in April 2021. Knowing this, made the story even more poignant. It is not a spoiler to include this in my review. I offer it to you to provide a deeper understanding.
You might think Rick Bragg suffering from a boatload of health issues with no wife or children was a poor lost soul. But never have I read a story more appreciative of what Life had given him. Read this If you are a dog lover or a Nature lover or a people person or a lover of language. It will satisfy you in all these ways.
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I have read Rick Bragg sporadically, but if he wrote about animals I would read him a lot. This is a wonderful book of how a dog and a person can find each other even if it is not perfect. loved, loved, loved this book
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Book review: 'The Speckled Beauty' a beautiful, poignant tale of a dog and his people
I have three pretty destructive dogs at home, and so I thought I understood when Rick Bragg, author of the new memoir, “The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and his People, Lost and Found,” began to tell a story about his “bad” dog. But this dog is more destructive than my dogs combined, and yet the dog, named The Speckled Beauty and called “Speck” for short, will quickly grow on you.

Set on a farm in Alabama, this poignant and heartfelt memoir begins with a funny prologue detailing Speck’s faults. We soon discover that, since he spent most of his life up to his rescue as a stray, Speck has trouble adjusting to his new life. And though he is quite a “bad” dog, he is the source of many comedic moments. He quite frequently commits whole lists of transgressions, and yet the family grows very attached to him.

As Speck begins to acclimate to life on the farm, Bragg also tells the story of his family and their struggles. As each member deals with their own obstacles, Speck begins a beautiful transformation. Though it seems he will never fully lose his wildness, Speck shows an astounding capacity for empathy.

I knew from the beginning that I would love “The Speckled Beauty,” but I did not realize just how much. Once I began this memoir, I did not want to put it down. Though Speck is the center of the story, Bragg’s compassionate portraits of his family members made me love them all. As the family grows and changes, so too does Speck, and Bragg creates a profoundly moving tableau.

Bragg is a good writer; his voice is wise and down to earth. The simple pared-down approach made for a quick and light, but also intensely emotional book, and I came away from it feeling as though I had learned something profound, not just about a man and his dog, but also about life itself. And while this memoir is ostensibly about a dog, it is also a story about love, healing, growth and redemption. If you love dogs as I do, I am sure this sometimes sad but ultimately uplifting memoir will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
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What a dog! I chuckled at his wild antics and cringed at his bloody, painful ones. Rick Bragg has written a fabulous book which I often couldn't put down. I also loved the sensitive stories about his mother and brother.

This was my first book by the author and I definitely will be looking out for more. I really enjoyed his style of writing and am happy to have discovered him.
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An Unvarnished Look at an Unvarnished Dog
This book is exactly as advertised. I was expecting more humor and less grit. I did enjoy that the dog did what he wanted, when he wanted. Mostly, he used the people as his tools. The people came across as stuck in their rural ruts of 'If it was good enough for Great Great Grandmawmaw, it should be good enough for you.' I am a rural person, but not a Southerner by any means. In that way, I just don't get it. I wanted more dog story, less sad people story. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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The Speckled Beauty is a beautifully written memoir by Rick Bragg of his life in the aftermath of a lymphoma diagnosis and the life changing entry of a badly behaved injured dog into his life. Released 21st Sept 2021 by Knopf, it's 256 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

This is a touchingly honest and really engaging memoir about a guy and his dog. Life isn't always perfect but it can be wonderful despite everything. Speck isn't a perfect dog (far from it, he pees on flowers, goes where he shouldn't, destroys things with wild abandon, drags revoltingly smelly deceased wildlife onto the porch, rolls in poop, makes messes, and howls at all hours). He and Bragg found one another and managed to redeem one another in profound ways. 

Throughout the reminiscences and funny stories, the lyrical prose is shining and lush. This is a gorgeously written book full of beautifully turned phrases. Definitely a solid pick for library acquisition and fans of memoir. This would also be a great choice for readers who love rescue stories and pet memoirs. This is a book readers will want to revisit.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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What happens when a man, beaten down by cancer and other illnesses, finds a bad dog--blind, two ravaged ears, so stupid he tries to herd a mule that kicks him across the yard, and that just can't be tamed of his wild spirit? Rick Bragg has written a wonderful story of the relationship between his family and this bad dog whose joy of living is contagious. Bragg provides a glimpse of life in rural Alabama, where dogs run wild and survival is based on fitness and fighting. Yet, Speck survives and thrives in this environment even as he befriends Bragg and becomes the families' comforter in times of trouble.
You'll laugh at Speck's antics and cry over his trials. But mostly, you'll be amazed and heartened as Speck becomes part of this family and provides the love and affection that only a dog can give.
Highly recommended for all animal lovers. A delightful, heartwarming, and soul heartening story.
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Being a long-time fan of Rick Bragg, I expected to love this new book of his, but I had no idea just how it would touch my heart and spirit.  Having lost both my parents in the past few years, I guess I'm more sentimental than normal, but I just felt a part of the family and deeply felt the emotions he describes. Mr. Bragg is such a descriptive author, he paints the picture so clearly you think you were right beside him.  This is a wonderful book to enjoy at leisure and feel all the warm comfort of being home with family.
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I have been a fan of Rick Bragg since he first published All Over But the Shouting.   His latest book doesn't disappoint.  Returning to his mother's home to recuperate from cancer, he adopts a wild dog(Speck) and thus begins the relationship between  a man and his dog.  Beautifully written, this is a must read for all animal lovers   an anybody else that wants to read a wonderful book.
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Speck is a stray dog who is accustomed to living in the wild with other dogs, but unlike most of those other dogs Speck is rescued by a family who loves him despite his rambunctiousness. The author makes his Southern home come alive with all its beauty and eccentricities. While the author struggles with health challenges, his love for Speck shines through. 

As someone who believes dogs should live indoors, I sometimes found myself struggling with the hard life Speck had endured and that he never became an indoor companion. I worried that he would be killed on a number of occasions in the book. Nevertheless, he was taken to the vet and clearly loved by the author and his family.

I enjoyed reading about Speck's growth and particularly how his relationship with the donkeys changed over time.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a galley in exchange for an honest review.
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I am a big Rick Bragg fan, and this book is a perfect example of why. He takes a book about a dog and uses it as a framework to write about family, growing older, and life in the South. 
The dog, Speck, is a trouble maker and a nuisance to just about every creature he comes in contact with. But, even as Bragg writes about all the ways Speck has almost gotten him killed or been a bother to him, his affection for his four-legged friend is easy to see. 
Forgive me for saying so, but I’m not really an animal person, so I wasn’t sure if I would like this as much as some of Bragg’s previous works. But as he wrote about his family, and particularly his brother Sam, his simple yet beautiful prose won me over yet again. The misadventures with the dog will bring laughter, but what those tales bring out in the humans around him will warm your heart. 
If you’re already a dog lover, you will find much to love about this book. But even if you’re not, you might be surprised how much humanity can be found in a book about a dog.
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Rick Bragg continues as the ultimate storyteller. I could not put down this book, as he took me into his world in the first sentences: He takes us down a winding driveway, though a  "green tunnel: of home and healing. Reading this book is to experience a healing of sorts. Thank you, again, Rick Bragg!
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Full disclosure: I am a former student of Bragg, but that said, I have attempted to be objective here. 
I first came to Rick Bragg’s writing through his writing in The New York Times. He was part of the team that covered a lot of the seminal stories from the 1990s, including the Oklahoma City Bombing, the horrific story of Susan Smith and her children, and others. While I became a fan through his newspaper writing, it is his autobiographical books centered on his family, such as here in The Speckled Beauty, that will stand as his lasting achievement. His Southern Living columns are fun, but there is something about the book format that so suits great Southern authors. There is enough room to make mistakes, as Faulkner said, but I also think there is plenty of room to expertly mix humor with pathos as Bragg does here. 

While Bragg’s brother and mom are more practical about animals, Bragg seems drawn to the misfit animals, in this case Speck. I like the little details given by Bragg. He offers Speck advice on the ride home from the vet only to realize Speck has fallen asleep. It’s funny but also comforting to imagine Bragg talking to his dog and to know he does so because he’s read dogs can understand some of what we tell them. It isn’t all humor either. Bragg, Speck and other family members run into health problems, and Bragg doesn’t try to paint such matters lightly. He admits to suffering from depression and having a litany of physical ailments while struggling to come to terms with the health issues of those dearest to him (Speck has a throat problem, one that won’t just go away). 

On the surface, The Speckled Beauty seems to be a simple story about a dog, but it is full of life’s comedic situations and faces life’s grim realities, too. Here is a man who finds relief in the popular culture images of dogs, the real-life comfort dogs give us and doesn’t shy away from grappling with his own mortality. Highly recommended.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
I'm an advocate for rescue dogs so this book was instantly appealing to me. Speck is a funny, mischievous, "bad" dog who chose Rick Bragg as his human and in turn, rescued Bragg as well. Speck is definitely a wild child and gets into a lot of spats, had been through unimaginable events unknown to anyone but him, and somehow survived it all.
I highly recommend this book to animal lovers and especially those who have a big heart for rescue dogs.
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I grew up in the American South with a father who had a strict shoot it or feed it policy when it came to strays.  Mostly he fed them.  That's how we ended up with a spanielesque creature of indeterminant origin named Kindness.  Our neighbor's mom died and Dad sent the dog to live with him and he said she was just what he needed.  Anyway, I developed, at that young age, the belief that the Universe sends you the support you need when you needed it most and quite often in the form of a four-legged, furry thing that will be enough trouble to distract you from what would otherwise be overwhelming personal mess.  Don't tell them, but my dad and my brother will probably get this book for Christmas.
You don't have to have read Bragg's other books to enjoy this one.  As a librarian, I'll recommend it to every patron who loves rescue pet stories and bad dog stories.  But my Rick Bragg readers are already lined up for this one and they won't be disappointed!.
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I was born in North Alabama. One thing you will find in most homes there is the latest copy of Southern Living magazine. I still get a monthly copy and the first thing I do is turn to the very back page to read an article by Rick Bragg. I think I've read all of his books and love them because he describes the people near all the places where I grew up. The Speckled Beauty describes not only the people I know and love but the dogs. This book is about Speck, not a "good dog" but a dog like our "church dog, the dog at Papaw's store, the dog that ate the food meant for my mamaw's dog - I think I know this dog. This is my favorite book of the year. Maybe later, I'll say my favorite non-fiction book but for now, it's the winner!
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