Dog Years by Mark Doty

Spread the love

Stars: ***1/2
I read this book for the Four-Legged Friends and In Their Shoes challenges.

This book wasn’t exactly what I was imagining it to be. With a title of Dog Years and a genre of memoir, it was obvious it would be about someone’s life with dogs. However it’s more than that. It delves into the author’s life more than the average memoir and in fact, it’s labelled with a biography sticker at my library. The first 4 chapters I found quite dry and hard to follow. The antedotes about the dogs were interesting but he seemed to ramble on about his life and his view of life. From chapter 5 on however it got better. The stories got more interesting and I could tell there was a shift in style so that the story flowed easier.

Speaking of style, Doty’s writing style is quite sophisticated, probably because he’s a poet. Being a poet also influenced his choice of quotes. Emily Dickinson is quote many times throughout the book. This book is also a vocabulary booster with such words as inchoate, concomitant and hegemony. Here are some quotes that show his unusual style:

“…, and cannot say just how it mattered so,….: – p.2

“…until the tongue tires.” – p.3

Also the first 2 words of each group of paragraphs is bolded. I found this odd but not bothersome.

Two things the potential reader should know about:
The book contains some adult language.
Mark Doty is gay and since this is also a biography of sorts, his being gay comes up throughout the book. Personally I would hope this wouldn’t make a difference whatsoever in your reading but unfortunately it is the case with some. I found it refreshing to read a book by a Gay person that wasn’t actually ABOUT being gay.

I read a Large Print edition from Harper Luxe and while I don’t know about other printing’s, this one had quite a few typos like periods in the middle of words. There is also a small part where it seems to me as if the wrong word was used but I’m no English major so if it’s correct as is, please someone let me know!

“…it is hard to apprehend five thousand deaths;” – p.6

Shouldn’t that say comprehend?

Overall the book was a pretty good read. If I had read Doty’s poetry and enjoyed poetry, I probably would have enjoyed it a little more.

This post is Copyright 2001-2012 SMS Book Reviews. Do not reproduce anything without permission.
About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.