Monday, March 11, 2013

Tim Rowland’s Creature Features

Tim Rowland’s Creature Features  by Tim Rowland
High Peaks Publishing, 11/16/2012
eBook, 160 pages
ISBN-13: 9780976159742

When Tim Rowland’s earlier book of his animal essays, All Pets are Off, was published, readers immediately clamored for more... So here’s a new volume of over 75 columns, from the introduction to the farm of bovines Cleopatra and Heifertiti, the Belted Galloway beauties, to the further antics of Hannah the English Bulldog and Juliet the tiny Siamese---and of course, more of the joyful bouvier des Flandres named Opie---that’s sure to provide loads of smiles and even outright guffaws.

My Thoughts:

Tim Rowland’s Creature Features is a new collection of 75 essays from Rowland's column at Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Maryland. The essays, written between June 2008 and October 2012, are all about the animals Tim and his wife Beth lived with on their "Little Farm by the Creek" in  Boonsboro, Maryland.
Rowland writes:
"Will Rogers said he ever met a man he didn’t like; by contrast, my wife Beth and I never met an animal we didn’t like. No question about it, our course is less challenging than Mr. R’s. But that doesn’t mean that our souls have not been tried time and time again, and our patience stretched well beyond the breaking point to the regions where it snaps and sends us over top of Mars." Page 11

"So we started with a pair of dairy goats. Or maybe it was the flock of chickens. It all starts to run together at this point. Pretty soon we had an ark-like assembly of about every farm animal that comes to mind. People who collect cars go through the same dynamic, I suppose. After a while the frame of logic shifts from 'Do we need it?' to 'What’s one more?' ” Page 12

"So with this collection of essays, I am letting animals past and present know that I forgive them. I absolve them of their sins, because hopefully some good has come from it, and I can focus on the laughs and entertainment they have provided to both myself and, hopefully, the reader.
Now if only the animals can see their way clear to forgive me. Page 12

Their wide assortment of animals (pets if they have a name, food if they don't) include: Juliet, the Siamese cat; Hannah the bulldog; Opie the Bouvier des Flandres; Magellan the zucchini eating pig, Roosters Stink and Chuckles, Doodlebug the cantankerous miniature horse; Cappy the horse, cows Cleopatra, Heifertiti, and the princesses; goats Hillary and Horsefly; plus horses, donkeys, more goats, llamas, chickens, geese, more pigs, and turkeys.

Some of the essays included in this collection are:
Egyptian royalty takes up residence on farm
Patch makes horse berry upset
Magellan the pig as adventurous as namesake
Ill-fitted pair finds short-term love on the farm
Cats live to make people look foolish
Broody duty has disastrous underpinnings
Rooster that eats stink bugs not for sale at any price
Chuckles the rooster avoids date with death
Goats, pigs compete for overconditioned kudos
This Thanksgiving promises to be the best ever
British invasion brings changes in pig culture
Turkeys go to big garnished platter in the sky
Darwin was wrong: Sometimes it’s “survival of the most pathetic.”
An Elizabethan collar by any other name would be a ‘Happy Hat”

This collection was hilarious. I laughed, hooted, snorted, whooped, chortled, wheezed, sputtered, chuckled, snickered, guffawed, howled... In other words, as I was reading Tim Rowland’s Creature Features, I sounded like I belonged on Tim and Beth Rowland's farm. The stories are short and easy to read, but thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. The word play Rowland engages in is a great part of what made these short essays so wonderful and satisfying. I wish I could share one of his columns with you, but you'll have to settle for some selected quotes below and read the book.
I'd like to also read Tim Rowland's earlier book, All Pets are Off, which is more about his pets while Creature Features focuses on other animals on the farm. 

Very Highly Recommended - I loved this collection

Great News! I received the following from Beth Rowland:

And because of the requests we received after your and other reviews on Tim's tour, we made his earlier book All Pets are Off available as an ebook. It's available on Kindle now and is coming to seven other platforms over the next weeks. 

 I've bought my copy!


This assigns a lot of logic to the thought patterns of a dog, an enterprise that to my knowledge has made no person rich. But I was willing to hear the man out.Page 15 

Natural Resources folks say the bear—fairly small and about 18 months old—had probably just gotten kicked out of his mom’s domain and was looking for new turf he could call home.

First, mad props to the bear community for realizing something that we, as a human race, still haven’t mastered. That being, when you turn 18, you need to get out. There are no 26-year-old bears living in their parents’ basements surfing the Internet and showing no real interest in advancing past their career as night manager at Wendy’s. Page 19

I have a soft spot for turtles, as do all people who were not allowed to have a dog or cat as a child, and for whom a turtle became the Pet of Last Resort. I even went so far as to put a leash on mine to add to the delusion.Page 22  

I never knew much about mares before, but to them, everything is High Drama. For drama, mares make a teenage girl look like Alan Greenspan. Page 29

Broody hens are basically chickens that want to become mothers. They stop laying eggs and do nothing but sit sullenly on a nest all day watching “The Guiding Light.” Page 62 

Hannah’s issue is that she wants to, as Beth says, “Be with her people.” If you have watched a dog show, you know that a bulldog is not in the hunting class, herding class or working class, they are simply listed as “companion dogs.” This means they have no discernible, professional contribution to society. In the human world, they would be known as “consultants.” Page 70 

He was quite handsome, but like a lot of pretty boys didn’t always have the mental firepower to match. Page 86  

Tim Rowland is an award-winning columnist at Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Maryland. He has written for numerous history and outdoor magazines and news syndicates nationwide.
He has also authored several books, most recently Strange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War and including All Pets are Off: A Collection of Hairy Columns, Petrified Fact: Stories of Bizarre Behavior that Really Happened, Mostly, Earth to Hagerstown, High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Maryland's Appalachian Highlands: Massacres, Moonshine & Mountaineering.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the author and Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for review purposes.   



Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you loved Creature Features!

Unknown said...

Your commennts:
"This collection was hilarious. I laughed, hooted, snorted, whooped, chortled, wheezed, sputtered, chuckled, snickered, guffawed, howled... In other words, as I was reading Tim Rowland’s Creature Features, I sounded like I belonged on Tim and Beth Rowland's farm"
Completely sold me on this book! I adore animals and LOVE cats. I always worry about books featuring animals because I cannot read about them in pain or suffering, usually. But this book sounds too good to pass up. It reminds me of the older James Herriott books, but modern and lighter.

Thank you for the giveaway!

Lori L said...

I think you will love this collection as much as I did, Amy. I have bought his previous collection, All Pets are Off, which I understand is more about pets, but I haven't read it yet.