This is a book with three entwined strands. There is the story of Brenin, the author's wolf: his life and behaviour, and his impact on Rowlands' own life. There are philosophical discussions that spin off from anecdotes about the wolf. And, implicit in both, there is the journey, the pathology, of the misanthropic, solitary man who is telling us all this.
The writing is thoroughly engaging: often humorous, always (so far as one can judge) honest and diligent. Rowlands, philosopher that he is, examines his assumptions as he goes, questions his own interpretations of events even as he presents them. The philosophical excursions are not technical or ground-breaking: this is a work for a general audience, not one intended to advance his own field; but nor are they new-age bubblegum. The links between those discussions and the lupine anecdotes from which they arise are genuine and clear, not contrived as they easily could have been. This makes for a satisfyingly rounded book.
Rowlands does not hide his own failings as a human being (though he would question what could be meant by 'success'), and so we see not only how much he adjusts his life to accommodate his furry companion, but also how dependent he in turn, alcoholic and otherwise alone, becomes on the love of his 'pack-brother'. This is both moving and a little strange, as he is quick to acknowledge. The 'Lessons' he learns from the wolf (or from reflecting on the way it lives) have real substance. I felt he laboured his points towards the end, in discussing our relationship with time, but he makes a worthwhile case.
Withal, the most immediately thrilling parts are the tales of Brenin the wolf: Destroyer Of Furniture, long-distance runner, globe-trotting philosophy student. Rowlands' descriptions of the animal are filled with warmth and acute observation. I came away in no doubt as to the privilege it had been for this man to have the companionship of such a creature, even through a time of desperate illness, and of the boon the bond had been for both of them. And as it happens, the fact that it is these intense 'moments' that strike the reader most is vindication of Rowlands' thesis. A life-affirming read.