Dog Years is the story of Doty's life with Arden and Beau, two retrievers who, each in his own way, leave a profound mark on him: Arden, who likes sleeping outdoors, even in the rain, who is observant and contemplative, who is friendly and eager to please; Beau, blithe, snatching the glove from his master's hand and running away with it, a mischievous gleam in his eye, always full of daring and bounding toward his next source of amusement.
As his time with the dogs reaches its end, Doty must face the difficult realization that to deal with death is to accept it as the utter loss of an irreplaceable value. To grieve is to understand that, while we may carry on, while we may find new loved ones, the loss we have experienced is the disappearance of a unique individual who will never return, and this tragic disruption will become a permanent part of us.
©2007 Mark Doty; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Elegant and elegiac." (Booklist)
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"I cried my face off"
This is a beautifully written book about love and loss and the peculiarities of human emotion. This was the first work that I have read by Mark Doty, and I am not at all surprised to learn that he is a poet; Doty reads the prose as if they were verse and the steady, rhythmic quality of his reading serves to create an intimate space into which the reader is invited to sit and grieve with him.
I feel the need to add that, while Mark Doty is a gay man, and he reflects on both the loss of his partner to AIDS as well as the rebuilding of his life with a new love, the themes in this book are universal and the recounting of personal trauma enriches the text, rather than diluting the author's message. The focus of the book is Doty's relationships with his pets, and how they affect and are reflected in his human relationships. Anyone who has mourned the loss of a loved one, canine or otherwise, will not only connect with Doty but find themselves experiencing their relationships, with their pets and loved ones, with a fuller awareness.
"Life, Death, and Love Embraced"
Mark Doty has an incredibly tender heart. As his parents once said after he was inconsolable after the death of his puppy, "Mark shouldn't have a dog."
Mark grew up, and in "Dog Years" we find that not only has Mark opened his heart to dogs again, but he's opened it to life, however painful it may be.
This is a deconstruction of poetry, of life, of death, of love. Doty's life with his partner is gone into, especially Wally's decline and ultimate death. It's not a heartbreaking slog, but is beautiful and tender, so very respectful. And the relationship with Arden and Bo is wonderful. I've had the gift of many animals in my life, and have been blessed enough to do hospice with them in their last months/days, and "Dog Years" reminded me of how even death can be filled with gratitude, with so much love, with life itself.
"Mark Doty & Dogs"
This book was such a surprise. One of our most notable U.S.poets is also an incredible memoirist.
I wept and laughed through Dog Years --and am now listening to it for a second time. It is not your ordinary "dog book." It is much more about the bigger issues of mortality, humanity, humility and love. A truly inspiring, amusing, heartwrenching piece of literature. Thank you, Mr.Doty.
I have a beautiful Golden and I laughed and cried as I recognized her traits so wonderfully described by Mark Doty. This is not just another dog book and it is NOT a book about being gay. It's a book about love, life and mortality. The second the recording finished, I started listening again. I got even more from it the second time around. This is a remarkable book beautifully read by the author.
"Sweet, funny, and deeply moving"
Doty reads his prose like his poetry, with halting careful phrases and attention to tone and detail. His canine memoir is perfect in itself, filled with sweet anecdotes and profound reflections on life, love, happiness and death. The lessons he reaps from the dogs and people in his life are as rewarding to the reader and listener as they are poignant and real to the author. A beautiful, touching memoir.
"Laughter and tears"
I laughed many times listening to the story, and I cried too. It was told so well. I have had similar experiences with two similar dogs and with a spouse who left too soon. This story and the good narration helped me to remember a little better, and to grieve, and to celebrate the memories at the same time. Soon, I will look forward to getting to know and love a new dog.
What a terrible book. I couldn't eve finish it!
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