AFTERGLOW by Eileen Myles
Kirkus Star


A Dog Memoir
Age Range: 1975 - 2014
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A memoir that stretches the limits of its genre by making a dog the textual centerpiece.

Notorious poet Myles (I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975-2014, 2015, etc.) strikes again with an irreverently poetic memoir that traces her experience losing her pit bull Rosie. The book begins with a hand-addressed letter Myles received in 1999 that reads, “I take the liberty…of forcing you to legally take responsibility for the damages you have inflicted over a period of nine years upon the being you have taken to calling ‘Rosie.’ I am Rosie’s lawyer.” From there, the author spirals into an introspective look at what it means to be a dog and to be at the mercy of another human. Myles divides the book into a series of mostly brief episodes—some true, some made-up, many experimental in structure and tone—that reflect Rosie’s thoughts as well as the author’s experiences with her own thoughts, but it never becomes overly nostalgic or sad. “The past is so often a place whose colors are only in my mind,” writes Myles. Certainly, readers may feel like much of the narrative’s meat happens offstage, but that’s part of the author’s charm. “I like to make it heavier sometimes. Saying versions of the same thing,” she writes, “I mean here. You probably already guessed it but I like saying it again. That one little piece again with a twist. And a thud. I don’t feel this way about everything but there are moments that need to be heavy. As a fact. Not an idea.” Rarely too heavy to be approachable, Myles’ work is a perfect example of what happens when you mix raw language with emotion, pets with loss, and sexuality with socioculturalism.

A captivating look at a poet’s repeated attempt “to dig a hole in eternity” through language.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2709-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2017


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