Why do dogs speak so profoundly to our inner lives? When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he finds himself bringing home Beau, a large golden retriever, malnourished and in need of loving care. Beau joins Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family. As Beau bounds back into life, the two dogs become Mark Doty's intimate companions, his solace, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Their tenacity, loyalty, and love inspire him when all else fails.
Dog Years is a remarkable work: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love. A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.
No dog has ever said a word, but that doesn't mean they live outside the world of speech. They listen acutely. They wait to hear a termbiscuit, walkand an inflection they know. What a stream of incomprehensible signs passes over them as they wait, patiently, for one of a few familiar words! Because they do not speak, except in the most limited fashion, we are always trying to figure them out. The expression is telling: to "figure out" is to make figures of speech, to invent metaphors to help us understand the world. To choose to live with a dog is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretationa mutual agreement, though the human being holds most of the cards.
What the interpreter must do is tell storiessometimes to the dog in question. Who hasn't heard a dog walker chattering away to her pet, as if she were serving as a kind of linguistic mirror: "You are scared of that police horse," "Lola loves that ball!" Some people speak...
Doty's earnest sincerity and relentless probing at his subject matter will not be to everyone's taste.
Inevitably compared to Marley & Me, Dog Years has more in common with The Year of Magical Thinking. Doty offers more than just a simple celebration of the relationship between a man and his dogs, or even between man and dog, delving into the universal themes of life and death, grief and happiness. His style is more philosophical than it is sentimental, merging memoir, poetry and prose into his eulogy for his two dogs.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (491 words).
Mark Doty's seven books of
poetry and three books of
nonfiction prose have been
honored with distinctions
including the National Book
Critics Circle Award, the
PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the
Los Angeles Times Book Prize
and, in the United Kingdom, the
T. S. Eliot Prize.
He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public ...
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