Synopses & Reviews
In his hilarious debut, Enslaved by Ducks
, Bob Tarte won legions of fans by telling the story of how he, once resistant even to having a dog, was convinced by this wife to take in animal after animal. In his newest tell-all tale, Bob reveals how things have gotten truly chaotic. Not only has the Tarte menagerie of parrots, doves, cockatiels, rabbits, ducks, geese, and cats continued to grow, but they're now joined by other uninvited guests, both human and animal.There's a family of mice, a spider who requires hand-feeding, Bob's grade school classmate who's now a grade A nuisance, the pet sitter applicant who never met an animal he didn't want to butcher, the master gardener who tramples every rare plant in his path. And the everpresent sock monkey.
Yet, no matter how much his life is overrun by the demands of fauna—and family—Bob discovers that it is the animals that can show him how to handle everything unexpected in life by relinquishing some control, by diving in and just dealing with it. And what he gets in return, as Bob learns in the middle of a shoving match with a duck, is perspective—an understanding of how much can actually be gained by accepting the unpredictable endless chaos in our lives.
With some sly humor and straight-up character portraits that made Enslaved by Ducks irresistible, Tarte shows us that life with animals offers us a wholly different view of the world—a glimpse of something larger, more enduring, and more grounded in the simplicity of love.
"This follow-up to Tarte's popular Enslaved by Ducks, which introduced the somewhat neurotic writer; his supportive wife, Linda; and their animals first a bunny and then an expanding menagerie of parrots, ducks, turkeys, cats and more bunnies has a somewhat darker undertone, but should still delight readers with its humorous 'Dave Barry on a farm' sensibility. Tarte begins with an admission that his life of caring for 30-odd animals had become pretty run-of-the-mill, and that he 'longed for the unexpected, and that was always a mistake.' What he gets, over the next five years, includes his father's death, his mother's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, a garden pest control/philosopher who doesn't really know anything about gardening, and the sudden deaths of some of his favorite pets. Despite the many wacky barnyard moments, Tarte doesn't play it safe: he deftly explores his concern that 'dark undercurrents had risen to the top like worms after a rain, and the worms were now in charge.' But with the help of family, friends and a new parrot named Bella, he overcomes his setbacks and sees that the 'mixture of wildness and comfort' created by his beloved animals 'was life itself in miniature.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"More than just a hilarious and raucous romp (which it is), Fowl Weather shows how a parrot, or a rabbit, or a duck, or a cat, can teach us more about ourselves and about the chaos of the world than any therapist or philosopher. Bob Tarte is clearly a man after my own heart." - Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
"On the web-footed heels of Enslaved by Ducks (2003), Tarte serves up another helping of his always-interesting life surrounded by animals. . . . What the author discovers is that his animals give him his center and focus, and that for all the headaches they can cause they also provide a form of sanity."
"Bob Tarte's writing is as delightful as Gerald Durrell's, and his humor is as quirky and smart as a Gary Larson cartoon. Yet Tarte has a voice all his own, and his unforgettable family—feathered, furred, and (the human ones, mostly) flummoxed—is one you'll love visiting. I couldn't put this book down (though I did pause to laugh out loud), and when I finished, I read it all over again!" — Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig
In Bob Tarte's home, pandemonium is the order of the day, and animals literally rule the roost—thirty-nine of them at last count. Whether it's the knot-tying African grey parrot, or the overweight cat who's trained Bob to hold her water bowl just above the floor, or the nightmarish duck who challenges him to a shoving match, this menagerie, along with his endlessly optimistic wife, Linda, provides daily lessons on the chaos inherent in our lives. But not until this modern-day Noah's Ark hits stormy weather—and Bob's world spins out of control—does he realize that this exuberant gaggle of animals provides his spiritual anchor. It is their alien presence, their sense of humor, and their impulsive behavior that both drive Bob crazy and paradoxically return him to sanity.
With the same sly humor and dead-on character portraits that made Enslaved by Ducks such a rousing success, Tarte proves that life with animals offers a wholly different perspective on the world.
About the Author
Bob Tarte wrote for The Beat magazine for twenty years. He has also written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Miami New Times, the Whole Earth Review, and other publications. He hosts the What Were You Thinking? podcast for petliferadio.com. He and his wife Linda live in Lowell, Michigan, and currently serve the whims of parrots, ducks, geese, parakeets, a rabbit, doves, hens, one turkey, and way too many cats.