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You Will Have a Black Labrador

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Worth reading 😎

This book of essays delivers wisdom in Nino G's unique, playfully sarcastic voice.

Synopsis

Love, memories, family, enduring friendships, cooking, movies, dogs, travels, hairstyles, and saying Yes to many No’s in a witty, yet often sentimental, journey of self-discovery…

You Will Have a Black Labrador is a collection of semiautobiographical essays forming a narrative about a modern Georgian woman. Her stories range from the search for a perfect romantic partner to exploring food as an integral part of the Georgian culture. Many of the vignettes center on childhood memories or weird family traditions, such as the way family members stay connected no matter if they’re deceased or alive. One essay reveals how making a simple omelette can change your life; and that No can be the most powerful word in any language. She shows us, too, that a haircut can be a tribute to the movies you love as well as a path to your freedom; and how owning a dog always brings unexpected experiences. In this poignantly humourous collection, reality mixes and interferes with an imaginative world in so many surprising ways.

Spunk, courage, liveliness, spirit. These are the words that come to mind to describe Nino Gugunishvili’s series of essays, You Will Have a Black Labrador. The topics range from her relationships with food, cooking, men, her dogs, family and her ancestors. A Georgian woman, this theme provides a unique perspective that underpins her explorations of communal experiences (falling in love, cooking the perfect omelet, the death of a dog) so that the lessons she offers are universal. Nino G, in her unique voice (that is equal parts wise and playful), offers readers an honest glimpse into her lived experiences.


You Will Have a Black Labrador is a short memoir, one that touches on a dozen-or-so topics. In some essays, she remains clear and concise, maintaining the theme, the thread of her investigation. In these chapters she is mischievously unapologetic about her perspective and presents her opinions to the reader with a spirited flourish. In other essays, she jumps from topic to topic somewhat abruptly. This leaves the reader feeling stretched thin, as if caught in a whirlpool of the author’s thoughts. Perhaps Nino G might consider expanding her memoir, adding essays on a wider variety of topics so that she might give each subject the time and space that it deserves.


Despite the sometimes-disorienting speed with which Nino G tackles the themes of her life, by books end, the reader is convinced of the author’s perspective. The no-nonsense, sarcasm that permeates her essays call to mind the image of a woman who is well-versed in the simultaneous skill of offering tough-love while remaining open and flexible to the constantly changing course of life’s great river.


Overall, You Will Have a Black Labrador is a book that draws the reader in. Nino G’s voice is distinct, memorable. She invites us into her life: the choices made, the adventures had, the dreams held. The wisdom she shares is accessible, and her delivery is full of spunk. 

Reviewed by

We (Sophia and Natasha) are passionate about fostering challenging conversations, even when the people involved disagree. We feel that modern society lacks the ability to model and impart the skills to respectfully disagree which is why we started the online platform Winter's Bloom.

Synopsis

Love, memories, family, enduring friendships, cooking, movies, dogs, travels, hairstyles, and saying Yes to many No’s in a witty, yet often sentimental, journey of self-discovery…

You Will Have a Black Labrador is a collection of semiautobiographical essays forming a narrative about a modern Georgian woman. Her stories range from the search for a perfect romantic partner to exploring food as an integral part of the Georgian culture. Many of the vignettes center on childhood memories or weird family traditions, such as the way family members stay connected no matter if they’re deceased or alive. One essay reveals how making a simple omelette can change your life; and that No can be the most powerful word in any language. She shows us, too, that a haircut can be a tribute to the movies you love as well as a path to your freedom; and how owning a dog always brings unexpected experiences. In this poignantly humourous collection, reality mixes and interferes with an imaginative world in so many surprising ways.

In Search of Peter


In between eating quinoa and goat cheese salads, the decision was made. We had to search for Peter. We became fiercely determined to not just search for Peter, but to find him.

A handsome guy, tall, possibly dark blond, blue eyed, just the right amount of funky and sophisticated, in his early forties, an entrepreneur, a digital prodigy, a start-upper, but not the nerdy type, no, a very easygoing one and fun to be around, not just for me, for my girlfriends included. He’d be generous and would invite us to many social outings, not that I care about social outings much, I’d be okay to snuggle on a couch with him (but I’m not telling Margot the ‘couch snuggling’ part, because she’s all about dragging out my socialite side). So, we move the story further, exploring going-outs in Peter’s company to the art galleries, movies, and all the trendiest restaurants in town. Peter’s family is from Boston and nowhere else, since Boston, we were told, is all about old money and wealth, but Peter doesn’t really need one.

‘Where does he live?’ Margot asks me, but we both know the answer without saying it out loud. Upper Manhattan or Soho is where Peter’s apartment is, all Scandinavian style, beige, wood floors, and minimalistic design. I can almost see him, in the morning, barefoot, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, drinking his coffee in that George Clooney Nespresso commercial style, then checking his email casually and leaving for work to his office, or maybe he doesn’t have an office and works from home, you know. He’s cool and relaxed, most of the time, and he’s only just a bit annoyed because I’m choosing one and the same place for our summer getaways, which is the south of France, of course. Not that he has anything against the south of France; he only reminds me, gently, that there are many other beautiful places scattered around the globe, and why don’t we go to Positano, Italy, next time? Positano it is, I agree, ignoring that nagging feeling inside me, rising.

We arrive at Positano, living in a little family-type hotel, run by a couple, Lucia and Salvatore. Lucia spoils us rotten with her mouthwatering pastas, lasagnes, and raviolis, and Salvatore brings his son’s artisan wines to the table and fills our glasses, and we’re drinking, and then sitting outside on a patio and watching the sunset from the cliff and kissing and later making love upstairs and laughing, and I tell Peter it’s so great we came to Positano and I kiss him fondly. I continue kissing him every now and then for the next couple of days, until Lucia introduces me to her son Gianni over the dinner, and I can’t take my eyes off his tanned muscular hands. When he starts speaking in that sexiest of accents, I’m dumbstruck and I lie about having a headache and Gianni drives me to the pharmacy in the middle of the night, and we have amazing sex in his car. By the time I wake up in Gianni’s bed the next morning, Peter is gone. I feel guilty over breakfast. I stay with Gianni in Positano till the end of the summer. We’re off to Naples, and Venice, and Florence in September; by the time we reach Rome, I can understand enough Italian to find out that Gianni’s engaged to the love of his life, a dark-haired, green-eyed beauty, Laura, who bursts into Gianni’s apartment one evening—and stays.

I leave for New York. I stumble on Peter’s photo on Facebook. He’s now working in Hong Kong, with Sui, his fiancé, and their cat, whose name I don’t remember, and I can’t ask since Peter has blocked me from everywhere. Why do I care?—asks Tom, a freelance writer, and a college professor, as I make him spaghetti, by Lucia’s recipe, but it’s never as good as hers. Tom’s obsessed with shoe polish. I like his slightly grim poems and short stories. He doesn’t mind my second chin. The lack of sex is compensated for by talks about literature. I masterfully hide my love for chick lit, romance, and Scandinavian thrillers. He dumps me for Suzanne at a writing retreat and claims she’s his muse for the rest of his life.

I buy a bottle of Pinot Grigio to celebrate, inviting my next-door neighbour, David, over. David is a busy surgeon, so we meet only occasionally, between his hospital shifts. He’s not at all like my favourite doctor from a TV show; he has no idea about my favourite TV show, and when I point that out, he says I’m delusional. I take it as an insult and change apartment.

My new job offer sends me to Stockholm, and to a three-month encounter with a young, immature Thorsten, a computer geek, shocked by my lack of computer skills and love for scented candles. I’m in awe of his father’s comics collection, and a super-comfortable couch on which we have a brief interlude. Thorsten tells me he’s heartbroken, writes a song and a lengthy post underneath, calling me bitch, and gets several likes and shares from Peter—and Gianni and Tom and David—along with a contract from one of the recording studios. I send his father a drawing of a Spiderman with a huge penis from the Stockholm airport. He never replies.

‘Enough!’ Margot screams, gulping the last of the Chardonnay. ‘Poor Peter, it was supposed to be his story, and I was going to visit you, and we’d have so much fun, and now it’s a bit sad that you never stayed together, even if we invented the whole thing over a salad,’ she tells me.

‘In fact, we came up with Peter’s story either at Prince Street or at Bleaker Street, if we’re following the actual facts,’ I reply and follow her gaze.

She whispers, ‘Please, try not to stare, but that guy sitting two tables ahead might look exactly like…’

‘Oh, great, I might now have to edit the story!’ I say, turn my head, and gasp.


About the author

Nino Gugunishvili is the author of the two collections of the short stories: From My Balcony to Yours (2020) and You Will Have a Black Labrador. (2019) Her debut women's fiction Friday Evening Eight O'Clock came out in 2015. Nino's professional background is in film, television, and journalism. view profile

Published on November 20, 2019

Published by

10000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by

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