Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & Dog Years


by Mark Doty & lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & og Years is one of the most beautiful and insightful books I have ever read. And one of the saddest.





If you feel sure that dogs don't have any emotions -- if you wonder why someone whose dog just died doesn't simply go out and get another one -- then take a pass on Mark Doty's memoir. You'd probably feel like fleeing anyway from the prospect of reading a narrative like his: After years of grief, just as a man starts to get over the death of his partner, 9/11 happens. And then his dog dies. And then his other dog dies. It's a real canine weepie.





In fact, just in the first 35 pages, I cried three times. And I still had 180 pages to go.





Maybe that makes me an over-emotional putz, I don't know. I'd prefer to think that it makes me, with the help of Doty's crystalline prose, a bit more compassionate, a bit more human, a bit more in need of a wet sniffy canine nose nuzzling my ear.





They lick our faces because they don't know how to say what's in their hearts. But the speechlessness of dogs, Doty reminds us, reflects what we once were ourselves: babies without language, accepting and non-judgmental, living fully and forever in the present. Everything, in other words, that draws us to our dogs.





Yet growing sentimental over them, says Doty, is just a form of displaced anger: People angry at death try to paper over their emotions with cute widdle puppies on fluffy pink sweaters. Our sadness over our companions' deaths, however, can't be generalized. Making a doggy commitment means embracing the sadness, one death at a time -- along with all their funny puppy tricks.





Doty, a poet who's skilled at description, provides many accounts of walking with his Arden through Greenwich Village, of ambling along a Provincetown beach with Beau splashing in the surf. His stories revel in the present, in the colors and aromas of strolls in the woods. They make me want to return home, before the opportunity's lost, and go for a walk with my dogs.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Coeur d'Alene Classic Boat Festival

Coeur d'Alene Classic Boat Festival @ Coeur d'Alene

Sat., Aug. 27 and Sun., Aug. 28

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Shorty's Last Dance
  • Shorty's Last Dance

    Remembering Delbert "Shorty" Belton
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • Hard to Swallow
  • Hard to Swallow

    Big changes could be coming to how Washington state regulates medical pot
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation