Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man by Brian McGrory


Wife and kids household pet

Boston Globe reporter / fiction writer Brian McGrory’s first memoir, as the title suggests, is in fact about a rooster, but it’s also about much, much more.

The book’s subtitle “How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man” most certainly seems like an absurd proposition.  What could a loud, obnoxious beast with a brain the size of a peanut possibly teach a successful White House correspondent and award-winning journalist about life? Surprisingly, quite a bit, but before readers are introduced to the peculiar fowl that was out to get McGrorgy, they first meet another animal friend who made a significant impact on his life, a Golden Retriever named Harry.

McGrory’s writing is both honest and inviting as he chronicles the events that lead to the purchase of the young puppy Harry from a breeder as a Christmas present for his then wife, through the collapse of their marriage, and finally through Harry’s eventual illness and death.  If you’re a fan of stories about the special, strong connecting bond that can be formed between a human and their pet then be sure to have the Kleenex ready, because this tragedy is a tearjerker to say the least.

With his passing however, Harry cleverly makes way for a new opportunity at romance for McGrory, and a proposition he initially rejects as being crazy turns into a serious relationship with his dog’s former veterinarian and her two young daughters.  For a fifty-year-old city dwelling man who took pride in being a lifelong bachelor with no string attached, things are about change, big time.

And change is what the bulk of McGrorgy’s book is about.  That, and of course, the nefarious plans of the ingenious fowl who seems to be plotting his demise.  McGrory hilariously retells tales of the bird’s antics and his reactions to the mayhem that ensues with pitch perfect laugh-out-loud pacing.  Buddy the rooster loves everyone except the man of the household, and what of the man of the household?  Well everyone, including his new family, his co-workers, his friends, and even his neighbors, they all think he’s the crazy one.  For as much as McGrory loathes the rooster, he can’t find a single sole around him that dislikes the bird even a single bit.  Like it or not, for better or worse, the man and bird are stuck with one another.

On top of the bird, McGrory delicately and thoughtfully muses on his newly formed relationship with his now fiancée’s young daughters.  For as much as Buddy is a tremendous book about animals, McGrory does an even better job at explaining both the frustration and joys that arise from being part of a modern, more increasingly common, blended family where children are constantly shuffled between parents and between homes.  As McGrory describes his transformation from single man to potential father figure and soon to be loving husband, he makes the reader feel as if they’re growing right along with him.  His memoir is as a much a conversation with the reader as it is a document of events that transpired in his life.

Titled Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man, McGrory’s book tackles such a wide range of emotional subjects that it could easily be shelved under several different categories.  Regardless of how you want to label it or where you have to look to find it, this one is a realistic tug on the heartstrings and potential wake up call to aging bachelors the world over that you most certainly don’t want to miss.


Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man
By Brian McGrory
336 Pages
ISBN 9780307953063


About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PennyKollar Penny Kollar

    Perfect review Aaron! I really enjoyed it, and liked how he tackled the “coming of age” for adult men. And Harry – Harry will shred your heart. And so will Brian’s love letter to Harry – because, truly, many parts of this story was a letter of love to that wonderful dog.