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Afterglow: A Dog Memoir by Eileen Myles review – for the love of dog


An elegy for a lost pet by a rock star of the spoken word takes in love, death and animal vision

Eileen Myles is a New York poet, maybe the New York poet, a swaggering troubadour of casually roving brilliance. Born in 1949, a third-generation participant in the New York School of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, they (“they” is Myles’s preferred pronoun) have written more than 20 books, which rollick between novel, memoir, poetry and art criticism. Like I Love Dick, by Myles’s friend Chris Kraus, these loping experiments in autofiction have hit new audiences in the last few years. Myles’s 1994 non-fiction novel Chelsea Girls was republished in 2015 to ecstatic reviews and round-the-block queues at readings. That same winter, the television series Transparent featured a lesbian poet modelled on the author. “My shirts are tighter,” Myles observed.

Afterglow is Myles’s dog book, a work of surpassing strangeness that takes the form of an elegy for a lost pet and converts it into a weird and agitated philosophical inquiry into – well, love, life, death, the bardo states in between, plaid, pathetic art, Manichaeism, lost parents, animal vision, alcoholism, Ireland, gender, ecstasy and grief.

My favourite digression concerns George Bush’s true identity as an alien snake queen, impregnated in the White House

Related: Punk poet Eileen Myles, on their dog memoir: 'We were regarded as an unruly pair'

Other dogs followed, but this one was the teacher in showing her supposed owner how to be a live animal, awake in time

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