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Dog Years: A Memoir
Dog Years A Memoir
Author: Mark Doty
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...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780061171017
ISBN-10: 0061171018
Publication Date: 4/1/2008
Pages: 256
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.

3.4 stars, based on 37 ratings
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Dog Years: A Memoir on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This book was not what I expected. As a lover of animals, pets, and books on the topic, I guess I wasn't expecting this book to be so... philisophical??? Although still a great read, I was looking for something lighter, more like "Marley" or "Dewey". I also feel as though it was hard to follow the timeline, as the author jumped around alot. Definately a good book, but not one of my favorite furry stories.
reviewed Dog Years: A Memoir on + 165 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Not a typical memoir or a typical dog book - Mark Doty is a poet by profession and so his memoir about the loss of his partner and the dogs that helped him through it is infused with poetry by Emily Dickinson and others. The memoir also covers the events of 9/11 by someone who was in New York at the time. Doty reflects on life and death, the difference between despair and depression, and more. You will love his dogs, Arden and Beau, and in the end you will cry too. It was an excellent, and thought provoking read.
reviewed Dog Years: A Memoir on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Mark Doty is a professor and has published books of poetry and non-fiction prose. This is a memoir of his life with Beau, a golden retriever he adopted from an animal shelter to be a companion for his dying partner, Wally. The two already owned another dog, Arden.

He writes about how the dogs helped him through his darkest days after the death of Wally and as he moved on to a new relationship with Paul, as well as the lessons he learned from them.

This was a book for my book club, so it's definitely something I wouldn't have chosen to read on my own. I enjoyed parts of the book but I felt like he kind of bounced around in time. He would be talking about what was happening at that point and bring up something that would happen in the future. For me, that made parts of the story rather jerky.

He also incorporated a lot of Emily Dickinson's poetry. I'm not a poetry fan and have very little knowledge of the genre. Maybe I would have enjoyed these segments more if I was more familiar with Dickson and other poets or just enjoyed poetry more.

There were a couple points in the story where I just found the author to be annoying. One was when he, Paul, their two cats and the two dogs move to live in Iowa City while he works for a semester (or two) at the University of Iowa. The University helps him to find temporary housing and in doing so, tells him he needs to lie to the person he will be renting the home from and say he has a small dog. He's not comfortable with this, but the person at the University assures him this is the only way she will be able to secure him housing that will allow all the pets.

The owner is living someone else during this time, so they are moving into a furnished home and the owner has some fairly explicit directions about how she would like things maintained so the animal doesn't (or should we say "animals don't") damage anything. The author belittles the owners desire to maintain and care for her furnishings because they aren't all that valuable and says they are lower quality that Ikea. As if only high-end and expensive furnishings should be maintained. At this point, he's already written about how he's felt suicidal at times and wants the reader to feel some empathy for him, but he can't come up with empathy for someone who may have purchased the best furnishings for their home that they can and understand why they would want to return home to find these items still in good condition.

The other incident that sticks out takes place in New York. Another dog is waiting outside a store for its owner and comes up to Beau and the two are doing the doggy get-to-know-you routine when the female owner comes out and, in a tone that the author interprets, as snippy, orders her dog to come along. He attributes this to the woman thinking that he (a gay man) is looking to hit on her or that she doesn't want her dog to socialize. It never crosses his mind that the women knows he's gay so doesn't see this as him hitting on her and that she's just in a hurry to get home. Maybe she has a deathly ill parent at home or a sick child. Perhaps she was just diagnosed with a terminal illness. Maybe she's just having a bad day and wants to get home and take a bath. But those options aren't presented -- it's purely about the person not wanting to be around him or his dog.

It's not a bad book. Perhaps a dog owner would like it better.
reviewed Dog Years: A Memoir on + 170 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
i found this book to be beautiful, the way Doty writes is like poetry, it is a moving, touching story and one that every dog owner can (should) be able to relate to. losing a dog is like losing a friend, and it is a painful time however this book is not all about tears and sorrow, it is a celebration of his dog's lives, which is beautiful.
reviewed Dog Years: A Memoir on + 114 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is a very moving story about a man's close relationship and appreciateion of his dogs. The writing is very beautiful, funny at times, and makes you think.
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