About a month ago, Kathleen and I attended an author program featuring author Craig Grossi and his well-traveled canine brother, Fred. The amazing story he shared in his maybe half-hour of comments has stayed with me. Turning points in people’s lives always get my attention, and this book chronicles some cosmic ones for this young author. As a young marine, he befriended a stray dog in a Taliban-held section of Afghanistan, and somehow smuggled the rascal back to the U.S. But that barely hints at the breadth and depth of this saga. That memoir is called Craig & Fred, and I highly recommend it. He’s since published another book, Second Chances, and I’d say there’s a good chance I’ll post about that one once I’ve read it.

Craig & Fred& Ned

Here is the review I’ve put on Goodreads for Craig Grossi’s Craig & Fred, (2017, William Morrow).

Craig & Fred. William Morrow. Craig Grossi

Dog lovers need this book. Because of its subject matter and the compelling way it is handled, Craig & Fred deserves a place on the bookshelves of People of the Dog. For them, this book is written in their first language.

One of the book’s two narratives concerns Craig’s cross country journey with a combat vet friend

But they’re not the only people who will pick up Craig & Fred and not want to put it down. The themes of rescue and redemption run through both of the memoir’s major narrative threads, pulling the reader forward like any good page-turner but also putting the reader front and center in author Craig Grossi’s hazardous foray through both combat and post-combat life.

Aren’t all powerful stories somehow about rescue and redemption? The straightforward, unaffected tone of Grossi’s writing belies the book’s seriousness and the author’s gravitas. Much of the book reads almost breezily, as Grossi and his fellow marines find humor in the midst of great danger in Afghanistan and then as he and his combat veteran buddy trek across isolated natural sites in America, encountering comic adventures and the kindness of strangers, but here too lie emotional depth charges. His is a journey of discovery and recovery. And a dog runs through it. A dog as much rescuer as rescued.

Learn more than you might want to know about life in a combat zone. Grasp just how easy and wrong it is to stigmatize people based on their life experiences. Remember how inexplicably and miraculously non-humans can help, even save, humans. 

Craig with co-pilot Fred at a reading

Thanks for reading this post. If you like it, I hope you’ll follow me at nedbachus.com and on Facebook Page, Open Admissions.

Mortal Things, my novel, will be published October 4, and if you’d like to pre-order it, you can do it on the nedbachus.com website or at Tree of Life. https://www.treeoflifetreeofjoy.com/mortal-things