Writers at the Wrecking Bar Presents Tommy Tomlinson in conversation with Ernie Suggs - Dogland

Writers at the Wrecking Bar Presents Tommy Tomlinson in conversation with Ernie Suggs - Dogland

Wednesday, May 08, 2024 7:00 PM

The Marianna Room at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub
292 Moreland Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

From Pulitzer Prize finalist Tommy Tomlinson comes an inside account of the Westminster Dog Show that follows one dog on his quest to become a champion—and explores the bond between dogs and their people.

At the first of two May editions of Writers at the Wrecking Bar, A Cappella Books welcomes back author and host of NPR's "SouthBound" podcast Tommy Tomlinson in honor of his latest book, "Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show." The author will appear in conversation with the AJC's Ernie Suggs.

Presented in partnership with Stuckey's.

About the Book

Tommy Tomlinson was watching a dog show on television a few years ago when he had a sudden thought: Are those dogs happy? How about pet dogs—are they happy? Those questions sparked a quest to venture inside the dog-show world, in search of a deeper understanding of the relationship between dogs and humans that has endured for thousands of years. "Dogland" shares his surprising, entertaining, and moving adventures.

Tomlinson spends three years on the road and goes behind the scenes at more than one hundred competitions across the country, from Midwestern fairgrounds to Madison Square Garden. Along the way he is licked, sniffed, and rubbed up against by dogs of nearly every size, shape, and breed. Like a real-life version of the classic mockumentary "Best in Show," "Dogland" follows one champion show dog—a Samoyed named Striker—as well as his handler, Laura King, and his devoted entourage of breeders and owners as he competes in the 2022 Westminster Dog Show.

Striker’s whole career has been leading up to this moment. As Tomlinson writes, picking a top show dog is like drafting an NFL quarterback when they’re still in elementary school. Now Striker has made it to the Super Bowl. Tomlinson takes readers on the long road to glory, bringing the dog-show circuit to life as he witnesses teams scrambling from town to town in search of championship points and large, colorful ribbons. (Striker and his crew travel in a custom-built RV named after Betty White.)

Tomlinson’s limitless curiosity about people and dogs reaches far beyond the show tents and into the ordinary lives of dogs. We hear from experts who have discovered new insights into how dogs and humans formed their bond—and how that bond has changed over the centuries. We discover the fascinating origins of different dog breeds, learn about the elaborate breed standards that determine an ideal show dog, and consider the health issues that can arise in purebred dogs. We also meet dog lovers who applaud every dog, regardless of breed, simply for being themselves, such as WeRateDogs, the social media phenomenon with millions of followers, all for posts celebrating the day-to-day goofiness in most dog owners’ lives.

Engaging, charming, and insightful, "Dogland" is an irresistibly appealing read that invites us on a rollicking backstage tour through the rituals, tricks, and wonders of the dog-show world—and reveals what matters most for the happiness of dogs and dog lovers everywhere.

About the Author

Tommy Tomlinson is the author of "The Elephant in the Room," a memoir about being overweight in America. He’s the host of the podcast "SouthBound" in partnership with WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR station. He has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. He spent twenty-three years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the "Best American Sports Writing" series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology "America’s Best Newspaper Writing." He teaches magazine writing at Wake Forest University and has taught at colleges, workshops, and conferences across the country. He also has a Substack called "The Writing Shed." Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte with Alix’s mom and a cat.

About the Conversation Partner

Ernie Suggs has been a reporter at the AJC since 1997, currently covering race and culture, as well as a variety of breaking national news and investigative stories. A veteran of nearly 30 years as a newspaper reporter, he previously reported for newspapers in New York City and Durham, covering stories ranging from politics to civil rights to higher education. Since 2016, he has managed the AJC’s award-winning Black History Month project through AJC Sepia, the paper’s Black news curation site. A 1990 graduate of North Carolina Central University, with a degree in English Literature, Suggs was also a 2009 Harvard University Nieman Fellow. He is currently on the Nieman Foundation’s Board of Trustees and the former national vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Rocky Mount, N.C., his obsession for Prince, Spike Lee movies, Hamilton and the New York Yankees is unmatched.

About Writers at the Wrecking Bar

A Cappella Books presents Writers at the Wrecking Bar, a series of live author interview events showcasing some of the country's freshest voices in literary and contemporary fiction. Each program includes writers in conversation with an arbiter of Atlanta's book scene, giving the audience a chance to experience and participate in the Q&A and get a signed copy of the book. Held upstairs in the Marianna Room of the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Writers at the Wrecking Bar hosts a cash bar, starting at 7 PM. The author conversation and book signing follow at 7:30 PM.