22 November 2016

Abigail Thomas: A Three Dog Life

I honestly have no idea what made me want to read this book. I usually have some knowledge of the story, author, etc. but I was just drawn to the summary and the fact that Stephen King calls it "a punch to the heart" in the cover quote. I really love memoirs and I'm so, so glad I read this one, it truly is amazing and I've since asked for more of Thomas' books for Christmas.

Thomas' story is actually very sad. She married a man in her 40s when she decided she didn't want to be alone anymore and placed an ad in a magazine looking for a partner. They met, he proposed only 13 days later, and they were really happy for 12 years until he got hit by a truck chasing after their dog. He suffered a crazy head trauma and loses most of his memory. Thomas moves him into a center where they look after him and visits him weekly. The book follows her dealing with her life now that she's alone again. Some people can't catch a break.

I really love her writing style. She reflects on things, makes comparisons, and goes into immense detail about parts of her life we usually wouldn't care about like arguments with her friends, etc. I also love the way she relates humans to dogs consistently throughout. It's not at all cheesy the way you'd expect and I think it really puts things into perspective.

"Dogs are never in a bad mood over something you said at breakfast. Dogs never sniff at the husks of old conversations, or conduct autopsies on weekends gone wrong. An unexamined life may not be worth living, but the overexamined life is hell. We talk too much."

To me, her writing is similar to Joan Didion. Meghan may kill me for making that comparison but that's my personal opinion. I think a lot of the themes in their writing overlap (grief, loss, memories, just getting through the day... light stuff) but I also think the way they both seem to be writing their thoughts as they come to them is similar.

"There's nothing I want to relive- certainly not youth- and as for what's to come, I'm in no hurry. I watch my dogs. They throw themselves into everything they do; even their sleeping is wholehearted. They aren't waiting for a better tomorrow, or looking back at their glory days. Following their example, I'm trying to stick to the present. I'm not stranded here, I know where I've been; I can conjure up details of old haunts, even former states of mind."

I love the passage when she describes being told about the accident. A man in their building finds their dog in the elevator. The dog has returned home but her husband isn't with him and she knows immediately that something's happened.You experience her shock and confusion but its as if her mind is already coming to terms with the fact that she's alone before she even sees her husband on the pavement. Having never experienced this type of trauma or grief (knock on wood) I am very interested in reading about people's experiences with it. 

I loved reading this. It's not long at all and it really gave me that "I am strong and can overcome anything" feeling that I often get for about 20 minutes after reading memoirs. I am obviously very drawn to the idea that dogs got her through this tragedy. Everytime I'm sad I just want a dog in my presence.

If you are at all into memoirs though I would highly recommend this one. I don't remember there being a lot of hype around it so it may not be something you'd read if nobody told you to... so here I am telling you to.

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