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Enslaved by Ducks: How One Man Went from Head of the Household to Bottom of the Pecking Order
Synopses & Reviews
When Bob Tarte left the Michigan suburbs for the country, he was thinking peace and quiet. He'd write his music reviews in the solitude of his rural home on the outskirts of everything. Then he married Linda. She wanted a rabbit. How much trouble, he thought, could a bunny be?
Well, after the bunny chewed its way through their electrical wires and then hid inside the wall, Bob realized that he'd been outwitted. But that was just the beginning. There were parrots, more rabbits, then ducks and African geese. The turkeys, stranded on a nearby road, fighting for their lives. The starlings. The sad, ugly duck for sale for 25 cents.
One day Bob looked around and saw he was not only outnumbered, but that he'd become a servant to an extremely demanding family: Stanley Sue, a gender-switching African grey parrot; Hector, a cantankerous shoulder-sitting Muscovy duck; Howard, an amorous ring-necked dove; Chloe, a mallard who learned to limp; and a host of others. And, against every instinct in him, Bob became their slave.
He read all the classic animal books — The Parrot Who Owns Me, The Dog Who Rescues Cats, Arnie the Darling Starling, That Quail Robert, The Cat Who Came for Christmas — about the joys of animals, the touching moments. But none revealed what it was really like to live with an unruly menagerie. This hilarious memoir gives us the other side — about a man who, against all bets, was converted to a doting and proud animal lover.
"A laugh-out-loud chronicle of what it means to bring animals — a blind turkey, an irascible rabbit, a lovesick dove — into your heart and home and make them part of the fabric of your life." Marty Becker D.V.M., Good Morning America
"Tarte has an ordinary-Joe voice that makes each chapter a true pleasure, while revealing a sophisticated vision of animals and their relationship to humans." Publishers Weekly
"Potential pet owners who think that caring for one or two animals would be a walk in the park will find this book extremely useful reading....Other readers will chuckle at the situations presented, and pet owners will no doubt identify with them." Judy McAloon, School Library Journal
"[H]ilarious....Part Gerald Durrell and part Bill Bryson, this heartwarming book will find many readers among 'Rascal' and 'That Quail, Robert' devotees." Nancy Bent, Booklist
"[W]holly disarming....[An] affecting debut." Kirkus Reviews
Bob Tarte was an unassuming, innocent man who only desired a peaceful existence in the country with his wife Linda. No sooner do they settle into a hundred year-old farmhouse, when Linda begins to bring home an odd assortment of animals. There's Binky, a belligerent rabbit who craves high voltage wires; Ollie, a tyrannical parakeet who brutally attacks the Tartes; and Stanely Sue, the gender-bending parrot. As the number and species of animals escalates, so does Bob's dosage of Zoloft. Normal routines like breakfast, bedtime, and food shopping become never-ending challenges that ultimately prove to Bob that he no longer rules the roost.
The book that Entertainment Weekly called "hilarious," Publishers Weekly declared "a true pleasure," Booklist called "heartwarming," and the Dallas Morning News praised as "rich and funny" is now available in paperback.
When Bob Tarte bought a house in rural Michigan, he was counting on a tranquil haven. Then Bob married Linda. She wanted a rabbit, which seemed innocuous enough until the bunny chewed through their electrical wiring. And that was just the beginning. Before long, Bob found himself constructing cages, buying feed, clearing duck waste, and spoon-feeding a menagerie of furry and feathery residents. His life of quiet serenity vanished, and he unwittingly became a servant to a relentlessly demanding family. "They dumbfounded him, controlled and teased him, took their share of his flesh, stole his heart" (Kirkus Reviews).
Whether commiserating with Bob over the fate of those who are slaves to their animals or regarding his story as a cautionary tale about the rigors of animal ownership, readers on both sides of the fence have found Tarte's story of his chaotic squawking household irresistible--and irresistibly funny.
When Bob Tarte bought a house in rural Michigan, he was counting on a tranquil haven. Then Bob married Linda. She wanted a rabbit, which seemed, at the time, innocuous enough. But that was just the beginning. Wouldn't a parrot be cute? Linda said. Bob suddenly found himself constructing pens, buying feed, clearing duck waste, spoonfeeding at mealtime. One day he realized he'd become a servant to a relentlessly demanding family, and a motley crew it was.
Writing as someone who's been ambushed by the way in which animals, even cranky ones, can wend their way into the heart, Bob Tarte reveals the truth of animal ownership—and who really owns whom.
About the Author
Bob Tarte has written for a number of publications, including the New York Times, the Beat magazine, the Boston Globe, the Whole Earth Review, and the Miami New Times, and has appeared on a variety of radio shows. He lives in Lowell, Michigan, with his wife, Linda, and three parrots, a dove, two parakeets, two rabbits, three cats, six geese, twelve ducks, one turkey and nine hens. The Tartes also raise and release orphaned songbirds.
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