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.
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