Travels With Casey
A 2014 New York Times bestseller, Travels With Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country, tells the story of my 32-state, 13,000-mile journey in an RV with a Labrador I worried didn't like me very much. On the way, I met a colorful cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans. Casey and I hung out with wolf-dogs in Appalachia, searched for stray dogs in Missouri, spent a full day at a kooky dog park in Manhattan, got pulled over by a K9 cop in Missouri, and visited “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan in California. And then there were the pet psychics, dog-wielding hitchhikers, and two nosy women who took their neighbor to court for allegedly failing to pick up her dog’s poop.
Travels With Casey was reviewed positively everywhere from the New York Times to Modern Dog. People named TWC its "Book of the Week." Publisher's Weekly raved that though "comparisons to John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley are obvious... this is an entirely different and equally reqarding piece of work that expands with each page without losing its narrative thread or the readers's interest." I was called "warm, often hilarious company" (New York Times), "a master at effortlessly weaving research into his narrative" (Los Angeles Times), a "hot summer author" (USA Today), and the creator of a "funny, fast-paced, life-affirming, moving, and satisfying... adventure tale" (Lambda Literary).
A collection of magazine writing from early in my career, American Voyeur: Dispatches From the Far Reaches of Modern Life takes readers inside some unexpected corners of this country. I visit a summer camp for pro-life teenagers, a San Francisco neighborhood where homeless teens have made a home, a New Hampshire town where two popular brothers committed suicide, a compound in the Ohio woods where Abercrombie & Fitch resigns (or used to reign) over the teen fashion world, a Boston social group for "lipstick lesbians," and other unusual communities and subcultures.
In its review of American Voyeur, The San Francisco Chronicle said the book "marries comprehensive reporting to perhaps the best chosen subject matter (the reviewer has) read in a long time, the kind of stories you clip and save over months before discovering they belong in a single author's folder." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune liked that I incorporated my "own experiences, bringing an honest, self-deprecating tone that avoids editorializing yet clarifies the stakes." Publishers Weekly added that the book "offers stirring and sensitive portraits of individuals—frequently adolescents—struggling to articulate desire and identity while bearing the weight of societal taboo and marginalization... (Benoit) combines sharp-eyed reportage, sensitive depiction, and happily, considering the sober subject matter, a wry wit."
For nearly three years, I immersed myself inside the lives of eight addicts--including a grandmother, a college student, a bodybuilder, a housewife, and a drug and gambling addiction counselor--hooked on everything from alcohol and crack to food, gambling, and sex. I also write about some of the ways my own shame, depression, and sexual compulsivity hurt myself and others. America Anonymous shines a spotlight on our most misunderstood health problem (is addiction a brain disease? A spiritual malady? A moral failing?) and tries to break through the shame and denial that still shape our cultural understanding of it—and hamper our ability to treat it.
Published in 2009, the book was widely and positively reviewed. Elle called it "graceful and compelling" and lauded it for its "deeply refreshing, unpuritanical frankness." In a starred review, Kirkus dubbed it "an arresting, personal glimpse into the merciless world of drug and behavioral addiction" marked by "seasoned, dexterous prose." The Cleveland Plain-Dealer called it "engrossing" and wrote that I gave "readers a sense of the ravaging power of addiction." The Huffington Post called America Anonymous one of the best of books of the year.
I spoke about the book (and addiction) on numerous television and radio programs, including The Today Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and NPR's Here & Now.