• The Speckled Beauty

  • A Dog and His People
  • By: Rick Bragg
  • Narrated by: Rick Bragg
  • Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (514 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

From the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All Over but the Shoutin', the warmhearted and hilarious story of how his life was transformed by his love for a poorly behaved, half-blind stray dog.

Speck is not a good boy. He is a terrible boy, a defiant, self-destructive, often malodorous boy, a grave robber and screen door moocher who spends his days playing chicken with the Fed Ex man, picking fights with thousand-pound livestock, and rolling in donkey manure, and his nights howling at the moon. He has been that way since the moment he appeared on the ridgeline behind Rick Bragg's house, a starved and half-dead creature, 76 pounds of wet hair and poor decisions.

Speck arrived in Rick's life at a moment of looming uncertainty. A cancer diagnosis, chemo, kidney failure, and recurring pneumonia had left Rick lethargic and melancholy. Speck helped, and he is helping, still, when he is not peeing on the rose of Sharon. Written with Bragg's inimitable blend of tenderness and sorrow, humor and grit, The Speckled Beauty captures the extraordinary, sustaining devotion between two damaged creatures who need each other to heal.

©2021 Rick Bragg (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

ONE OF GARDEN & GUN'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

“This is a witty, moving love letter to one extraordinary dog—and an ode to the transformative powers of his kind.” People Magazine [Book of the Week]

 “This moving book is a literary ode to canine love.” The Washington Post

“Bragg has done it again, focusing his lyrical prose on one aspect of his Southern roots while managing to embrace much larger terrain in the process . . . [The Speckled Beauty] delights the senses and is as honest as the day is long.” —David Holahan, USA Today 

What listeners say about The Speckled Beauty

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Pure Pleasure

Even if you’ve never been to the true South - you can envision it when you read this book. I come from a long line of people just like this family. This book speaks to my heart I will read it again and again.

8 people found this helpful

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Honest true life story

I am a fan of Rick Bragg and have read several of his books. I listened to this one and found it as good as the others. He wrote about a dog but also the relationships between a dog and the people in his life, a dog and the animals in his life, and we find that Bragg has a soft spot for dogs. He rescues this dog that is in bad shape. In fact, Bragg is not sure the dog will make it, but with care and attention from him and his mother, Speck becomes part of the family even though he is a "terrible dog" who gets into fights, tries to herd a mule and causes much trouble. Once again we see Rick Bragg's people and learn of the troubles his loved ones face. We see how his brother finally warms to this dog he thought was a terrible dog and Bragg's mother talks to the dog like he was a child.
I fell in love with Speck and felt the love that we dog lovers have for our four-footed friends. This is a gritty book in ways, but is also a lovely and touching book. I will likely listen to it again soon.

5 people found this helpful

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“IT WAS SO GOOD I MILKED IT OUT!”

I usually don’t use my credit to buy shorter books in listening length, but the sample had me laughing right off the bat. If you have ever had a dog that wouldn’t mind, then this is the book to listen to. I throughly enjoyed it and want to thank Rick Bragg for brightening up my day while I worked.

5 people found this helpful

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For The Love Of A Dog

I truly enjoyed this book even though it brought back bittersweet memories of my family's own bad dog - an Aussie found under similar circumstances. We named him Houdini and, like Bragg's dog, have so many stories to tell. I loved listening to the author's telling in his own voice, rich with the deep vowels of the south. And of course, the getting to know his people along with the "bad" dog.

3 people found this helpful

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Finest Book on Audible, Bar None (imho)

WOW!! Just wow. To know this charming book is to instantly update your definition of what constitutes brilliant writing.…even beyond Shakespeare maybe, I kid you not. No wonder Rick Bragg once won a Pulitzer prize — most likely awarded for his excellence as a New York Times journalist but to my thinking, such a magnificent book might be the crowning glory of this “King of Authors” (a title dubbed by me even partway through the outstanding prose in “The Speckled beauty”). What a book, what quality writing!

Instead of just 5 stars ***** I am also adding my own rating of 5 tacos 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮 just to draw your attention to my review because I want you to become aware of this extraordinary book about a wonderfully human man and his outrageously disobedient dog — it is literary art handcrafted as by the Michelangelo of print…AND the author narrates it in his own richly developed Southern drawl with perfect voice inflections and pauses. I should apologize to you viewers for recommending it so highly with superlatives but I could not help it: this writer and his rascal dog deserve first-class praise!

2 people found this helpful

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Good writing, but hard to read if you are a responsible dog owner

If you’ve had outside farm dogs all your life I imagine you will enjoy this book. The author is obviously an accomplished writer and story teller. But if you are someone who takes your dog’s safety seriously this book might leave you feeling a bit nauseated. As though, no matter how many times you have swished and spit you can’t get the bad taste of dogs left to fend for themselves out of your mouth.

2 people found this helpful

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His Absolute Best!

Hearing Rick Bragg outdo himself as he does in this book is just phenomenal. If you haven't read him yet and you're choosing, this one is SO good. It's beautifully written and read per his usual, with his trademark great storytelling, but wow, what a show-stopper book he's got here. It's so much more than a book about a dog, and everything that he does so well, he does EVEN BETTER in this book, as implausible as that may seem! His best yet, despite being such tough competition for himself. A truly great read that will have you wanting to re-read it again right away. Get it, get it, get it.

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Fabulous!

Rick Bragg never disappoints - his stories of “his people” always take me right to his home and family. Both my son and I read and reread Mr Bragg.

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Unbelievable

I’m a Rick Bragg fan but this may be my favorite. It’s a great tale of the love of a man and a dog. Rick narrated the book which makes it more captivating.
If you love dogs and the tales of family, relationships and dogs this will capture your heart.
Loved it

2 people found this helpful

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Dogs Lives with DeepSouth Country Folk

Twenty years ago I read and marveled in All Over But the Shoutin'. it was an honest eye opening look into the down on the heels life of country folk in Northeastern Alabama. I followed up with Ava's Man which I enjoyed but to a lesser degree. I read in a review back then of Bragg's works, that Southern authors spend the first half of their life living it and the second half writing about it.

Because I am a dog lover and dog parent I returned to Bragg with the Speckled Beaury.

I had a hard time getting into it but stuck with it. Bragg is a master of the metaphor and language rolls easily from his mind to the page. I was thrilled when he referenced Willie Morris's opus My Dig Skip which is one of the most evocative books I have ever read.

This latest Bragg book was worth reading just to get to chapter eleven. That which details the relationship between the three family dogs and the parts about his older brother Sam make this book worth listening to as read by the author in his world weary Southern drawl.

1 person found this helpful