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Writer David Toussaint at Gables' Books & Books Sunday to discuss 'DJ, the Dog Who Rescued Me'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

DJ coverNew York writer David Toussaint will be at Books & Books in Coral Gables on Sunday to discuss his new book, DJ: The Dog Who Rescued Me.

"This will be my fourth book. Two were on gay weddings, one was a book of essays," says Toussaint, the senior editor for GuySpy.com, an online magazine and dating site. "I would never have imagined I would do a book about a dog, fluffy and adorable."

DJ: The Dog Who Rescued Me is a brief, 10-chapter book filled with pictures of Toussaint's 6-year-old pug, with photos by Piero Ribelli.

"I've loved pugs forever. I had no intention to write a book about my dog until somebody i grew up with, who I knew for 35 years, saw all the photos i was putting on Facebook. She said I had to write a book about my dog, because I’m so madly in love with him," Toussaint says. "I thought about it for a day and said, 'Yeah she’s right. If I don’t do it today, I’m going to regret it.'"

Toussaint says he "set out to do a coffee table picture book with very little text."

"But somebody said picture books don’t sell anymore because of Kindle and so forth. He suggested we turn it more into a story. It's about 40 photographs for a 47-page book. It’s a lot of pictures. It’s a small coffee table book."

Toussaint describes the book as "a very Manhattan story."

"It’s also my story," he says. "it’s a story about how [DJ] lifted me out of depression. Part of that is very New York-based and coming from a gay male point of view."

"I had just had a hit book and couldn’t get a job to save my life. The one thing I could do was get a dog, because I had time," he says. "Within a week, I realized I wasn’t paying attention to myself because I had to learn how to take care of a dog, which I had never done."

Toussaint, 49, says he first fell in love with pugs back when he was 22, living off-campus at UCLA. "The woman in the apartment above me had two pugs."

DJ, now 8, is Toussaint's first dog.

"The story is from birth to age 6," Toussaint says.

Toussaint says the mainstream book almost didn't get done.

"A New York publisher said nobody will ever read this book because you’re a gay man," Toussaint says, adding that the publisher himself is a gay man.

"The only ones who will read about depression and dogs are women between the ages of 40 and 60 and they won’t read anything by a gay man," the publisher told Toussaint.

Toussaint ignored the gay publisher's advice.

"This is a book about depression and how dogs can help you. Whether I’m gay or not is besides the point," Toussaint says. "The person who inspired me to do this is a straight woman. She said write the book you want and don’t worry about it."

IF YOU GO

Writer David Toussaint speaks 4 p.m. Sunday at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.

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