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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

"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)

“Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist Rick Bragg (The Best Cook in the World; My Southern Journey) grew out of rural Southern poverty, but the spirit of his storytelling has made him — and legions of readers — rich beyond measure.... Amid dark days, bright Speck shows up at just the right time. How fortunate for readers that the joy of his presence — enhanced by the wit and wisdom of Bragg's inimitable prose — will resonate far beyond the Bragg homestead.” (Kathleen Gerard, Shelf Awareness)

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

1 person 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.

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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.

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Touching, memorable memoir

Seldom does a book evoke such powerful emotions as this one. The reading by the author brought a level of reality to the story. The writing was so simple and yet so powerful. I laughed, cried, wondered, visualized, heard…thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

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About dogs and humans and life

There are so many gems in Speckled Beauty! Anecdotes about family, friendship, spirituality, illness, building bridges, weather, the value of work, about love and respect, and getting to say what should have been said before.

Even though the story is set in Alabama, it felt so familiar like Texas, like Arizona, and many places I’ve read about, and places lost in time. The story brings us to COVID and quarantine, reminding me of what we’ve been through, and the toll it has taken in us all.

I laughed out loud (a lot), I cried, and all the way through, and my heart was warmed with the possible beauty and love we can receive from all living things - even snakes. I will listen to Speckled Beauty again and again -fer sure!

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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.

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One of his best!


By far the most deeply personal of all of his books I've read to date. Tho it's mostly about the dog, Rick Bragg also shares his own health crisis, his depression, his physical limitations brought on by age, the situation with his brother Sam, and more.

I imagine his next book will be about his beloved brother, I hope so, Sam was a remarkable man who made the most of a hard life, and Rick's love and admiration for him is apparent on every page.

The very good/bad dog is an extraordinary character as well, and a profound help to the author as he was trying to survive his own very difficult times.

With all the serious topics he covered, he still managed to be quite funny at times. One of my favorites of his books. Very well done. And as usual his narration is perfect.