Nonfiction on Veterans and Dogs and a Nova Scotia Architect | Xpress Reviews

Week ending November 10, 2017

Grossi, Craig. Craig & Fred: A Marine, a Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other. Morrow. Nov. 2017. 288p. photos. ISBN 9780062693389. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062693402. PETS
Many veterans feel isolated upon returning home, finding it difficult to readjust to civilian life. A friendly question, “What kind of dog is that?” provides an opening for Grossi, a marine veteran, to discuss his experiences in the military and at war. He met Fred, a happy mutt of a dog (puppy, it turned out) during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. Fred quickly became part of the crew, providing companionship and a sense of normality in a deadly situation. The book intersperses the stories of Grossi’s military career, his relationship with Fred, and their road trip across the United States with Grossi’s friend Josh, another veteran. The two already have an audience in popular and social media outlets, such as The Dodo and Instagram (fredtheafghan). A young reader’s version will also be published; a tour is planned.
Verdict Grossi’s message of “stubborn positivity” is subtle and therein lies its appeal. He brings readers into the day-to-day experiences of being deployed during conflict, without romanticizing or demonizing the people involved. He also avoids editorializing on the politics of war, keeping the focus on his relationships with fellow soldiers and Fred.—Meagan Storey, Virginia Beach

McCarter, Robert. The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic. Thames & Hudson. Apr. 2017. 372p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780500343319. $70. ARCH
The prolific practitioner and historian McCarter (Washington Univ., St. Louis) has produced another monograph in an impressive series that includes Alvar Aalto, Steven Holl, Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, and one of the definitive examinations of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. McCarter’s writing exhibits a rare combination of the designer’s understanding of materials and methods with the historian’s grasp of precedent and style. With this effort he turns his attention to a lesser-known Nova Scotia firm that seeks a blend of regionalism, minimalist form, geometric clarity, and environmental responsibility. In this handsomely produced catalog, featuring sketches, floor plans, sections, elevations, images of models, and numerous double-spread color photographs, the overarching division into private houses and public places is accompanied by essays by each of the two principals. The author’s explanatory data on each of the works is short, cogent, and, above all, descriptive. An eloquent concluding essay by British architect Kenneth Frampton mirrors McCarter’s intelligent introduction of the firm’s guidelines of ordering principles, sensitivity to locality, and sustainability.
Verdict For larger architecture collections.—Paul Glassman, Yeshiva Univ. Libs., New York

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