Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bookshelf: Mark Doty


Mark Doty is a professor of English at Rutgers with specialization in poetry. As such, his memoir, "Dog Years" reads like a 216 page poem. I snagged the book from the Animal section of B&N thinking it would be an animal focused story, like "Marley & Me" or "Dewey", but I should have known that no animal book is ever strictly about the animal (unless it's an animal encyclopedia). The human always ends up in the story and "Dog Years" was no exception. Actually, I like to think of "Dog Years" as the story about Mark Doty with excerpts of his two dogs Beau and Arden woven into it.
"Dog Years" is a poetic rendering of grief and how a person copes. In this story it is dealing with watching a loved one fall ill and slowly succumb to death, later dealing with 9/11 and how it changed Doty's homelife and the city around him, and then finally losing the beloved animals that were with you through it all.
Intertwined with memories of Arden and Beau's lives with Doty are analytical thoughts on dogs, their names, their behaviors, the way humans love them. It was nice to not only read about a set of lives but also (I can't believe I'm saying this) feel like I was back in school dissecting semantics and throwing about ideas.
I think that any animal lover would enjoy this quick read, one, because the relationship between human and animal is relateable, and two because it's just a beautifully written story. I'd like to leave you with my favorite excerpt from the story (though really it was hard to choose just one considering I loved the entire book.
"But the plain truth is no one should have to defend what he loves. If I decide to become one of those dotty old people who live alone with six beagles, who on earth is harmed by the extremity of my affections? There is little enough devotion in the world that we should be glad for it in whatever form it appears,and never mock it, or underestimate its depths. Love, I think, is a gateway to the world, not an escape from it."
Happy Reading!

1 comment

  1. I've read a bit of Mark Doty's poetry, and loved it. It has been far too long since we've talked, Stephanie. I'm going to e-mail you right now.


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