Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"A Coyote's in the House"

Some Angelenos are upset about the coyotes that have moved down out of the hills and into the city. Today, as is his wont, Joel Stein's column in the Los Angeles Times offers a take on the situation seemingly designed to maximize mail from outraged readers: he likes the coyotes.

The story's connection to a books blog: Stein mentions Jack London and God's Dog: A Celebration of the North American Coyote by Hope Ryden, the current reading of a wildlife biologist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who Stein contacted because "I figured she was likely to be as crazy as I am."

But Stein fails to mention my favorite book on coyotes in urban L.A.: Elmore Leonard's A Coyote's in the House.

Here's the publisher's spiel:
The first ever children's book from the New York Times bestselling master of contemporary fiction

Buddy's an aging movie star.
Antwan's a rough-and-tumble loner.
And Miss Betty, the show girl, is a princess.

Different in nearly every way, they share one thing: they're all dogs...at heart.

Though Antwan's the leader of his pack and loves hanging in the hills, feasting from Hollywood's chicest garbage cans, he's too curious a coyote to turn down his new friend Buddy's invitation to see how the other half lives. Convincing his new human family he's a mysterious pooch named Timmy, Antwan quickly becomes part of the brood.

But as Antwan's star rises, Buddy's spirits fall. Past his prime to humans, Buddy wants to chuck the luxury and live in the wild -- if Antwan will show him how. To cheer up their pal, Antwan and Miss Betty concoct a daring plan, setting off a chain of uproarious adventures that will teach them all a few new tricks about friendship, family, and life.

Filled with the spot-on dialogue and clever plotting that have made Elmore Leonard top dog among writers of every breed, A Coyote's in the House reveals the inner life of canines -- wild and domesticated -- in a fresh, funny tale for the young and the young at heart.
OK, so it's a YA book...a YA book by America's coolest grandfather.

Bonus coyote/L.A. movie note: Michael Mann's 2004 film Collateral has a brief scene where a coyote strolls through downtown L.A. at night.

--Marshal Zeringue