My Dog, Me — Novel
My Dog, Me
230 pages, 4.25"x 7", Perfect Bound
Pub Date: 1/15/19
Ousted by his girlfriend, Nick takes himself–and his bicycle–to New Orleans, where he sulks and cycles, prey to vivid dreams and anxieties. Along with an antiquated interest in letter-writing, he shows an unexpected knack for collage. But undercurrents of racial and sexual disharmony alarm him on his wobbly journeys around town, and even the dogs seem critical. Anthony Schlagel is a subtle, engaging, artistic writer: risky, frisky, and very funny. My Dog, Me is a striking tale of being a loose cannon at a loose end. It presents a wholly new, and honest, take on what it is to be American–and every American should know about it.
--Lucy Ellmann, author of Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
Last Convertible to Biloxi
We stood up, brushed sand off, and took two bottles of water out of the cooler. We waited for traffic to open up, then ran across the highway. We walked under an ivy arch, with an iron sign above it that read Old French Cemetery. Graves, tall shade trees, people strolling—and a mausoleum that blew us away.
A wealthy person had recreated a miniature interior of his mansion, remade in marble, with furniture, appliances even (toasters and lamps and bookshelves and books and rugs), all remade in marble, in one-tenth scale or something. Like something Ted Turner might do. We peered through the bedroom window, past the fixed, forever frozen-in-the-breeze marble curtains. I expected to see him lying on the bed, taking a nap with his hat beside him, but the bed was empty. Libby thought he might be in the living room sitting on the couch, so we ran around to look. “Nobody home!” said Libby. It was so funny I fell down on the grass laughing. Mortal people and the pride they have.
I told Libby it’d be fun to picket a funeral, to hold up picket signs that read, “Down with Coffins!” She agreed it was a funny idea, and she’d picket with me. I asked her if she’d picket her own mother’s funeral, and she said she wouldn’t, that’d be too much, but she’d picket my mother’s funeral. Nice touch.
We sat under the oldest living shade tree in Mississippi. I took off my hat. She took off her sunglasses. She grinned, but not at me. I didn’t mind. Thirty yards away—I can’t measure these things—a young woman with green strands in her blond hair was sitting on a park bench beside an Indian or Pakistani young man. She was wearing an aquamarine hearing aid that stood out from her ear on purpose like a cool pair of eyeglasses. She handed him a drawing she’d been making on her artist’s pad. He examined it, nodded, and handed it back. Her deafness as a child had affected her speech, so she was often quiet, and the young man, out of love and respect, was quiet too. After awhile, the young Indian or Pakistani man said goodbye and walked away, straight toward us. We pretended to be talking. When he was past, we gazed back at her. She was putting her art things away. Then she leaned forward and began sketching something with her left hand. Her blond hair with green streaks fell into her face. Her pink, long-sleeved men’s cotton shirt. Her aqua marine hearing aid. So beautiful.
It was the first time in my life that I’d been so quiet, and thoughtful, and observant alongside another person.
Anthony Schlagel grew up pastorally and anachronistically in rural Minnesota. He migrated west with the wagon trains to San Francisco where he studied poetry. To support himself he drove a cab for several years at night. Wearily, he traveled eastward to Tennessee to become a librarian. He lives restively in rural Arizona. More information can be found on his website, AnthonySchlagel.com.