"Hilarious....You may never look at Fido the same way."
"Hilarious....You may never look at Fido the same way."
The Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
For readers who like to keep two or more books going at a time, a book like Bob Tarte's is a special treasure. His riotous good humor offers a diverting glance into "someone else's" problematic household, while his fresh prose, entertaining insights into animal and human behavior, and escalating domestic drama keep the pages turning. Enslaved by Ducks is Tarte's delectably original record of his self-conscious, reflective evolution from a carefree, urban bachelor to a devoted rural husband who becomes the increasingly subordinate caretaker of countless pets.
Tarte's charming animal anecdotes provide a cover for his lack of expertise as an opinionated, if ill-informed, world music critic who feathers out his music column with duck stories from his household menagerie. As with all good animal books, the mysterious characteristics of the "alien beings" provide insight into the human condition; and Tarte's willingness to let the reader in on the darkest hours of pet care gives his debut an emotional punch that sharpens its humor and heightens its many giddy highs. A visit to the Tartes' Michigan home, inhabited by a multiplying horde of demanding ducks, geese, turkeys, parakeets, parrots, rabbits, cats, and starlings will dumbfound and delight, before the laughter it provokes will rob you of your seat.
(Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)
Knowing little about animals, Tarte and his wife na vely acquire Binky, an impish bunny, at an Easter bunny fair, little suspecting that it will soon dominate their lives and lead to a brigade of other winged and furred beasts. After Binky, they get a canary, then Ollie, an orange-chin pocket parrot, whom they return because he flings his water-logged food all over their floor and accosts them with calls and bites. Then they buy a more docile gray-cheek parakeet, which makes the Tartes realize they miss their raucous friend Ollie, whom they retrieve. Gluttons for punishment, the Tartes acquire a gender-confused African gray parrot named Stanley Sue, followed by ducks, geese, turkeys, parrots, starlings, more rabbits and cats. Every day brings an adventure or a tragedy (Ollie escapes; a duck gets eaten by a raccoon) to their Michigan country house. With dead-on character portraits, Tarte keeps readers laughing about unreliable pet store proprietors, a duck named Hector who doesn't like water, an amorous dove named Howard, a foster-mother goose, patient veterinarians and increasingly bewildered friends. 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. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Tarte spent the first 38 years of his life as a city slicker and worked as a columnist for a reggae and world-music magazine. A move to the country and his wife's growing collection of indoor and outdoor animals soon changed Tarte's column into a collection of stories about the menagerie that was taking over his life. In his words: "Our animals have provided me with the only subject besides music that I've ever felt impassioned to write about." This book is Tarte's attempt to explain how his life came to be controlled by the wants and needs of bunnies, cats, and a variety of birds ranging from parrots to ducks, geese, and turkeys. With the good humor and positive outlook that can come only from having infinite patience and understanding, Tarte recounts some of his trials and tribulations, beginning with the arrival of Binky, a dwarf Dutch rabbit with destructive gnawing habits. Tarte misses the lesson on the folly of impulse buying and soon acquires a parrot named Ollie, who is so cantankerous that Tarte must return him after only three days. Not only did the author and his wife relent and reclaim Ollie but they even acquired other parrots, with equally disturbing results. This light and witty diversion is highly recommended for those who appreciate the value of good humor and a positive outlook on life.-Edell Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-A cast of characters listed in the front-along with all of the veterinarians consulted-helps to keep straight the bewildering number of animals, mostly avian and each with a personality of its own, that populates this amusing book. Newly married Michiganders Bob and Linda Tarte moved to the country per her desire, and soon she talked him into acquiring a rabbit to add to their two cats. Despite the bunny's bad attitude, one animal led to another, until there were more of them than you can shake a bird perch at. Tarte was sometimes hard-pressed to name them all, since they encompassed ducks, bunnies, cats, doves, canaries, turkeys, parrots, starlings, geese, and parakeets. While teens might not want to own any of these noisy and often bad-tempered beasts, reading about their foibles-and the foibles of the people from whom they were acquired-is great fun, thanks to the author's sly sense of humor and willingness to poke good-natured fun at himself, his wife, and their menagerie. 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. In fact, they might have second thoughts about a trip to the pet store. Other readers will chuckle at the situations presented, and pet owners will no doubt identify with them.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The wholly disarming story of a music reviewer’s move to the country, where he gradually, inexorably gathered about him a ragtag band of animals. "The long, smooth slide from keeping one animal to housing more than two dozen amazes me as much as the fact that I'm willing to expend energy on them," Tarte writes. He was an urban creature, ready (if ill-prepared) to take on the work of writing about reggae and world music because the chance fell in his lap. He was not so ready (though equally ill-prepared) to turn his rural Michigan residence over to a multiplying horde of insistent ducks, geese, parrots, parakeets, turkeys, cats, rabbits, and starlings. They dumbfounded him, controlled and teased him, took their share of his flesh, stole his heart. Since animals inevitably get sick, sometimes mortally, Tarte found that visits to the vet eventually necessitated visits to the psychiatrist; his mood chemistry needed as much help as his menagerie. While he keeps the tone light, peppered with dredging humor ("Pat a hunter's hound on the head, idly suggest that one of these days you'd like to bag a dog with a .22, and expect a heated discussion"), the author quietly suggests that animals are little packets of alien intelligence fully inhabiting their own world, which is worth tapping into. His furred and feathered companions took Tarte out of himself, gave him a satisfying flinch of pleasure, taught him to live within chaos, introduced him to the strange ceremonies of animal care. As well, they pulled his chain, broke his trust, ate up his time and patience, showed him a thing or two about violence, and died on him. His chronicle of those processes ties them all neatly together, and it soundslike love. "Why didn't anyone warn me?" Tarte asks about the consequences of sharing a home with animals. It’s a good thing they didn’t, or we might not have had this affecting debut.