By Merrill Markoe
320 pages; Villard
Gil, the growly, slovenly, haplessly divorced fellow in Merrill Markoe's Nose Down, Eyes Up, is clueless about human relationships; frankly, he's a bit of an animal. Listening in as his favorite dog, Jimmy, counsels his fellow canines on life and love ("It's the big emotion behind snack time"), Gil bumbles through comic misadventures with his bouncy girlfriend, Sara, and his sexpot ex-wife, Eden. Read this novel for its nose-to-the-ground wisdom, its unsentimental take on family, and for the funniest, furriest pack of jokesters this side of the Marx Brothers.