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EILEEN MYLES discusses their memoir AFTERGLOW

Afterglow (a dog memoir) (Grove Press)

Prolific and widely renowned poet, novelist, and essayist Eileen Myles is a trailblazer whose decades of literary and artistic work “set a bar for openness, frankness, and variability few lives could ever match” (New York Review of Books). Afterglow (a dog memoir), Myles’ first foray into memoir, paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of a beloved confidant: the pit bull called Rosie.

In 1990, Myles chose Rosie from a litter on the street, and their connection instantly became central to the writer's life and work. During the course of their sixteen years together, Myles was madly devoted to the dog’s wellbeing, especially in her final days. Starting from the emptiness following Rosie’s death, Afterglow launches a heartfelt and fabulist investigation into the true nature of the bond between pet and pet-owner. Through this lens, we witness Myles’s experiences with intimacy and spirituality, celebrity and politics, alcoholism and recovery, fathers and family history, gender, romance, memory, as well as the fantastical myths we invent to get to the heart of grief.

Afterglow joins a grand literary tradition of writers paying homage to a beloved dog—J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Virginia Woolf’s Flush, Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs, Amy Hempel’s stories, as well as Mark Doty’s Dog Years, and even Abigail Thomas’s A Three Dog Life—but as one might suspect, Myles’ entry in the canon subverts both genre and tradition and stands apart as resolutely its own thing. Combining screenplay, monologue, science fiction, and lucid memory, the text is animated with photos, diagrams, drawings, and poems to craft a mosaic of their life together.

Moving from an imaginary talk show where Rosie is interviewed by Myles’s childhood puppet, to a critical reenactment of the night Rosie mated with another pit bull; from lyrical transcriptions of their walks, to Rosie’s enlightened narration from the afterlife, Afterglow illuminates the surreal and familiar aspects of what it means to dedicate your existence to a dog.

Praise for Afterglow

“A rare new breed of dog memoir; think Patti’s Smith’s Just Kids, not John Grogan’s Marley and Me, absinthe not saccharine” –Library Journal (starred review)

“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.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“For more than 16 years, Myles was companioned by a pit bull named Rosie until Rosie did what dogs do and left the author to navigate a post-Rosie world, solo. In the after of Rosie, poet Myles . . . . writesthis unconventional, uncontainable, phantasmagoric memoir of dog and owner. . . . Poetic, heartrending, soothing, and funny, this is a mind-expanding contemplation of creation, the act and the noun, and the creatures whose deaths we presume will precede ours but whose lives make our own better beyond reason. To this, readers should bring tissues, pencil and paper, even their dogs.”–Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

“Myles uses a pastiche approach to explore the bodily, cerebral, and esoteric/religious aspects of the grieving process, all of which is portrayed with meditative poignancy . . . Myles depicts the raw pathos of loss with keen insight.” –Publishers Weekly

“A ravishingly strange and gorgeous book about a dog that’s really about life and everything there is, Eileen Myles’s Afterglow is a truly astonishing creation.”–Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

Eileen Myles—who prefers to use a gender-neutral pronoun—is the author of more than twenty books, including Chelsea Girls, Cool For You, and most recently, I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems 1975-2014. Their many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, four Lambda Literary Awards, the Clark Prize for Excellence in Art Writing, the Shelley Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America, Creative Capital’s Literature Award as well as an Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writers’ Grant, and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant. They live in Marfa, TX and New York City. Their poems were featured in seasons 2 and 3 of the Emmy-winning show Transparent.

Photo by Peggy O'Brien

Event date: 
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
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