There's a section devoted to dogs, mostly malamutes ([Daniel Pinkwater] and his wife Jill wrote what friends tell me is the best dog-training book ever, Superpuppy! and they ran an obedience school for a few years) and some of them will break your heart. Animals of all kinds show up in the other pieces ("Polly Wants a Broad Spectrum Antibiotic"). In "Crack the Whip and Pass the Chips," he talks about real animal trainers-"a good many of my fellow trainers, and some of the greats, have been fatsoes." Speaking of Uncle Heavy and His Porkchop Review, he says "As a sprightly youth of 250 pounds or so, I caught the eye of many a senior trainer. They liked my style." Then he describes how he turned down lion-taming for the arts.
IN SEVERAL of the pieces, Pinkwater's father is the subject. The (transliterated) title piece "Fischvhistle" begins "My father spoke no known language . . . He started out speaking Polish-I guess . . . He could also murder Russian, Yiddish and German." "Talis," the book's final piece, is funny and moving. It describes Pinkwater's father being forbidden to wear a prayer shawl, during a grandson's bar-mitzvah, by a with-it Hollywood rabbi. "Many of our members bring their Christian friends to services here. We don't want them to see old men with beards bobbing around, acting crazy."
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.