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Beagle Books' featured authors go to the dogs at Satuday book signing

Doglessness can be a truly diminished existence.

That's the opinion of a book critic who reviewed "The Nature of Dogs," a book of portraits of 60 different purebred varieties.

Photographer/author Mary Ludington and her partner of 15 years, Kevin Kling, will be at Beagle Books in Park Rapids at noon Saturday June 7 to discuss their books and to sign copies. Both are from Minneapolis.

Kling, whose wry, rollicking autobiographical tales entertain listeners of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," will discuss his latest book, "The Dog Says How"

The couple owns two dachshunds, a basset hound, a gelding and a cat.

Ludington's photos are generally black and white. She colors many in her darkroom to get sepia tones. Several authors including Kling. have contributed written essays to her book, which was 12 years in the making. The photos and essays capture dogs' personalities, their sociable nature, their canine psyche.

Kling's book is as offbeat as his life. He's a third generation lightning victim. His ice fishing stories, searing life tales and plays have regaled Minnesotans for decades. His wrenching self-observations and humorous take on life have made him a cult figure in Minnesota.

As a child his early taxidermy endeavors resulted in horrified teachers, and one Boy Scout display that featured three stuffed chipmunks playing poker around a log.

The book title comes from Kling's own life. He was born with a deformed arm. A near-fatal motorcycle accident in his adulthood paralyzed the other arm. He uses a voice-activated computer to write. Every time his dog barks, the computer types "how" to mimic the sound.

The pair both have a loyal following. Ludington is a well-known photographer. Her book taps into the public fondness for "Man's Best Friend." Even cat lovers will find her photos compelling.

"We hope the whole town comes" to the open house," said Jennifer Wills Geraedts, Beagle Books manager.