A Three Dog Life

A Three Dog Life - Abigail Thomas I feel bad giving such a low rating to this--it's so...literary in its intent, and Abigail was a woman I found it easy to identify with undergoing a terrible tragedy. It wasn't far in that she was telling of her first date with her husband at Moon Palace in the Columbia University area of New York City, and it brought back memories--it was where my mother took me for my first taste of Chinese food as a child. There were a lot of landmarks for me such as that one in this memoir. But some of that identification was undercut by my feeling too conscious of the literary style--usually first person, but sometimes second person, often in present tense, shifting in time, with jumbling, stream-of-consciousness touches. Abigail Thomas teaches writing and at times the book screamed New Yorker to me. (The magazine, not the people.) I do like literary fiction; I can even name entire novels I've read--and enjoyed--in the exotic second person. But the good books make me forget I'm reading in a literary style--this made me overly aware of it. The other reason I can't honestly rate it high is that it was such a downer. Please understand, for me ratings are a completely subjective marker--and if I'm honest this isn't a book I enjoyed. Despite what the title and cover might lead you to believe, this isn't a heart-warming book about dogs. This is the epigraph heading the book: Australian Aborigines slept with their dogs for warmth on cold nights, the coldest being a "three dog night." - Wikipedia Abigail Thomas enters a "three dog life" when her husband is severely injured by a car accident. His frontal lobe gone, like others who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), her husband Rich would suffer: "psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations, aggressive behavior, rages." The man she'd known and loved was--gone. Yes, there are three dogs who feature in the narrative--but this isn't a story about dogs. This is about mourning a person not yet dead but just as irretrievably gone. And despite mentions of family and friends in this memoir she comes across as isolated, alone. Not even three dogs can provide enough warmth to withstand the chill this book exuded to me.