Jennifer (aka EM)'s Reviews > Dog Years

Dog Years by Mark Doty
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Sep 03, 13

really liked it
bookshelves: going-to-the-dogs, prosetry
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Koeeoaddi
Read from April 17 to 20, 2013

Beautiful book. Surprising in many ways - the poetry of it; the poetry in it (a lot of Emily Dickinson). Wide-ranging, introspective: from the failure and futility of language as a way to understand another being (leave it to a poet to point out language's short-comings); to the power of love and art to keep us tethered and grounded and here, and to give us the meaning we need to stick around and to rise above grief and despair - the ever-present human condition.

(view spoiler).

Not a lot of laughs - it's not that kind of book; but the sadness ultimately felt real. Not manipulative. Necessary and cleansing, I'd say. Reconciliatory. Is that a word? It should be.

I love that Doty is unashamedly sentimental, but not saccharine or anthropomorphic as with so many dog stories. I love how tactile he is. I love that he puts his relationships with his dogs on an equal basis with that of his humans. I love how much this book honours them all.
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Quotes Jennifer (aka EM) Liked

Mark Doty
“...in the face of all dangers, in what may seem a godless region, we move forward through the agencies of love and art.”
Mark Doty, Dog Years


Reading Progress

01/30 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by jo (new) - added it

jo beautiful review. look, you're reading poetry, and then coughing up poetry in response! so, again, how would this work in a queer theory class? does it provide food for thought about queerness -- what it means to be queer, how to live queerly, etc.?


Jennifer (aka EM) <3 No, you know what: I kept thinking about that. And I'm no judge, but I don't think his being gay or his gay relationships are at all a real theme or factor. This is a book that feels very human - it's about the human condition - whatever your gender, class, orientation, etc etc etc.

It's beautiful though; it really is. Some of my doggie books get 5 stars for reasons other than the writing; this one gets 5 stars for that too.


message 3: by jo (new) - added it

jo i see. thank you. and thank you SO MUCH for thinking about that. i had a feeling that might be the case. OTOH, this man has written other books. maybe they will be more appropriate.

i will read it regardless, once i get on top of all the other stuff.


Koeeoaddi I think this is my favorite dog book and I can't figure out if it's because of the poetry of his prose or that I just fecking LIKE Doty and his relationship with his dogs so much.


message 5: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Apr 20, 2013 07:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer (aka EM) jo, I imagine you'll like it for all the other things it offers: there's a lot of spirituality in it; there's a really powerful description of his climb out of despair to finding a reason to live. There's tons about the work and art of writing; there's lots of love and then, of course, there are the dogs. But it doesn't have the one thing you were actually looking for in it!


message 6: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Apr 20, 2013 08:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer (aka EM) Koeeoaddi wrote: "I think this is my favorite dog book and I can't figure out if it's because of the poetry of his prose or that I just fecking LIKE Doty and his relationship with his dogs so much."

I agree completely - and I think both are probably true!

Although the weirdest thing: I kept imagining sitting beside him at a dinner party and thinking, I'm not sure I could take it -- all that introspection and churning over and over the depths of his feelings/experience; every thought, gesture, word, nuance. And never a joke to lighten the mood. Whew. I bet he's really ... intense.


Koeeoaddi Yes!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sbyQz...

a new plume of smoke joining the others,
billow of dark thought rising
from that broken forehead of the House of Beauty


lovelovelove, in any event.


Jennifer (aka EM) not a word of a lie, I clicked on the link before reading the rest of your message and was about to come back and post THE EXACT LINES YOU POSTED.

Uplifting!

Oh - wait - a little glimmer of happy! The crowd, she laughed. Twice!

If beauty were burning, what would you save?
the House of Beauty is a house of flames


He loves the yin-yang of things, doesn't he?


Koeeoaddi :)

Listening to him, reading his work makes me want to write better poems. Shine on, Mr. Doty.


message 10: by jo (last edited Apr 20, 2013 08:46PM) (new) - added it

jo what i was looking for in it was SOLELY related to finding new material for my class. there's a lot more than finding material for my class that goes into my choice of reading (gawd yes!)! i'll read this. you guys make it sound fantastic. and i take from all this that at least teh doggies don't come a sad demise.

Although the weirdest thing: I kept imagining sitting beside him at a dinner party and thinking, I'm not sure I could take it -- all that introspection and churning over and over the depths of his feelings/experience; every thought, gesture, word, nuance. And never a joke to lighten the mood. Whew. I bet he's really ... intense.

not necessarily. writers are a funny breed. you think they are something from having read their books, then you meet them and they are something else entirely.


message 11: by jo (new) - added it

jo sometimes they write the most amazing books and you get to sit them down and talk, and they don't got a bloody thing to say. there you are, all shaking with emotion, and they are like, wha?


Jennifer (aka EM) jo wrote: "sometimes they write the most amazing books and you get to sit them down and talk, and they don't got a bloody thing to say. there you are, all shaking with emotion, and they are like, wha?"

hahahahah. See, this is another reason why I never want to meet Miriam, or Louise, or Margaret.

Ko: is there a particular book of poetry of Doty's that you'd recommend as a good starting point?


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