New & notable book: Steven Rowley’s ‘Lily and the Octopus’

Admit it, dog people, each of our dogs speaks to us (in unique voices we often provide). First-time author Steven Rowley gives voice to a valiant, loyal and loving dachshund — based on the valiant, loyal and loving dachshund who was once an important part of his life — in Lily and the Octopus.

“Six months after my dog, Lily, died of cancer, I sat down at my kitchen table to scribble some memories of our time together,” Rowley says in press materials. “The meals we shared. The naps we took. The talks we had when no one else was listening. Happy memories, silly memories, harrowing memories.

“These memories became the basis of a short story I called The Octopus. I didn’t expect it to go anywhere; I was just doing what writers often do — jotting feelings down on paper to get them out of my heart and my head. I shared the story with my boyfriend, who encouraged me to keep writing, and so I did.

“While the work evolved into a novel, Lily is very much the book’s heart, and she’s portrayed pretty true to the dog she was.”

The connection between man and dog is loud and clear in this sweet novel in which Ted Flask, who endures his share of everyday challenges, faces the loss of his best friend of 12 years to cancer (he calls the tumor over Lily’s eye an octopus). War is declared. Adventures are had.

Have your tissues handy, dog people.

And, by the way, the book is dedicated to the original Lily.

Celeste Williams

Lily and the Octopus

  • By Steven Rowley
  • Simon & Schuster, $25.99
  • Audio: Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99; narrated by actor Michael Urie.