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Dog Years: A Memoirby Mark Doty
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Award-winning memoirist (Firebird) and poet (School of the Arts) Doty explores, with compassion and intelligence, the complicated, loving territory inhabited by devoted dogs and their loyal humans. In 1994, when the author's longtime lover was dying of AIDS, beloved pet Arden kept the surviving partner afloat. A new adoptee, the rambunctious Beau, in his 'sloppy dog way,' becomes a part of the tribe and carries some of the burden of grief. Doty says Beau 'carried something else for me too, which was my will to live.' In a time of devastating pain, as well as in happier times, Doty's two dogs are the 'secret heroes of my own vitality.' The dog characters in the book are irresistible, and the arcs of their lives are delineated with the tenderness and passion of the truly smitten. Arden's quiet nobility and slow decline breaks the heart, while Beau's goofy enthusiasm peaks with youth and mellows in illness. With a marvelous ability to present the pain of mourning with a poet's delicate hand, and an irrepressible instinct for joy, Doty delivers a soulful love story which illuminates no less than the big human mysteries: attachment, death, grief, loyalty, happiness. The book nimbly sidesteps sentimentality and lands squarely on a philosophical, inquisitive tone as intellectually evocative as it is emotionally resonant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Evocative, compassionate, a love story both intimate and grand, this is a beautiful book." Amy Hempel
"Dog Years is about dogs, which is to say, it is about everything we cannot talk about. Although Mark Doty manages to write about what he calls 'the unsayable' about our relationships with animals, and about unspeakable times of loss, Dog Years is not a dark book. It is illuminated from within by generous wonder." Louise Erdrich
"Rather amazing...[Doty's] boundless affection is tempered by graceful observations....A profound reflection on hope, and a song of praise for the dead." Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Its complex formal structure is like memory itself, and its exquisite pace reminds one of nothing so much as a stroll in the park with Fido. Poignant, intelligent, and quite simply superb." Library Journal (starred)
"[An] elegant and elegiac memoir....To be loved by Doty...is to be elevated into a realm of utter glory....Doty's tender yet cogent...observations...transcendently celebrate the essential connection between man and pet." Booklist
"Life-affirming, lyrical, and profoundly affection....Only Mark Doty could have written a dog book (100 percent soul, 0 percent sentimentality) that covers so much ground without ever abandoning its four-footed subjects." Pam Houston, O magazine
"Doty writes unsentimentally but affectingly about the solace and companionship dogs provide, their vulnerability, and the hope and unconditional love they bring into a home." Out Magazine
"I haven't owned a dog since childhood....I thought I might be indifferent, maybe even bored. Instead, I was charmed, moved, often fascinated." Chicago Sun-Times
Both moving and entertaining, Dog Years is the story of two beloved retrievers and is a pointed, perceptive meditation on life, death, and the nature of companionship.
From the moment when we first open our homesandmdash;and our heartsandmdash;to a new pet, we know that one day we will have to watch this beloved animal age and die. The pain of that eventual separation is the cruel corollary to the love we share with them, and most of us deal with it by simply ignoring its inevitability.
With The Last Walk, Jessica Pierce makes a forceful case that our pets, and the love we bear them, deserve better. Drawing on the moving story of the last year of the life of her own treasured dog, Ody, she presents an in-depth exploration of the practical, medical, and moral issues that trouble pet owners confronted with the decline and death of their companion animals. Pierce combines heart-wrenching personal stories, interviews, and scientific research to consider a wide range of questions about animal aging, end-of-life care, and death. She tackles such vexing questions as whether animals are aware of death, whether they're feeling pain, and if and when euthanasia is appropriate. Given what we know and can learn, how should we best honor the lives of our pets, both while they live and after they have left us?and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
The product of a lifetime of loving pets, studying philosophy, and collaborating with scientists at the forefront of the study of animal behavior and cognition, The Last Walk asksandmdash;and answersandmdash;the toughest questions pet owners face. The result is informative, moving, and consoling in equal parts; no pet lover should miss it.
About the Author
Mark Doty's seven books of poetry and three books of nonfiction prose have been honored with such distinctions as the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Writers' Award, 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 Library. He is a professor at the University of Houston and lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
1: Final Odyssey
The Ody Journal, September 29, 2009and#8211;January 15, 2010
2: Into the Open
The Ody Journal, March 14, 2010and#8211;June 3, 2010
The Ody Journal, June 5, 2010and#8211;September 4, 2010
The Ody Journal, September 20, 2010and#8211;October 24, 2010
5: Animal Hospice
The Ody Journal, October 25, 2010and#8211;November 28, 2010
6: Blue Needle
The Ody Journal, November 29, 2010and#8211;December 7, 2010
The Ody Journal, November 29, 2011
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