Monday, December 8, 2008

"Weaponised Hounds": A reader writes from London

"I came to see you read at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London a few weeks ago. I was able to introduce a few friends to your work that night, which was great. There was a story I wanted to tell you but the general throngingness made it feel inappropriate - never mess with a London poetry crowd.

The story was this. All my life I've had a phobia of dogs. Most dogs I can't even look at them - I just see a shadow, something unnatural moving. But - you know - I like your work and I know what comes with the territory, so I read Dog Years. Now, in London from about two, maybe three Summers ago, it got really fashionable for the local big Y Youth to wander about with what I can best describe as Weaponised Hounds - bull terriers and dogs like that. They'd seem to parade with the dogs up and down the Harrow road, near where I live. I was reading your book as I got off the tube at Royal Oak to walk home, and suddenly came to what my surroundings were. And somehow spending time with the attention you'd given to describing Arden and Beau meant I could see this dog right in front of me on the arm of a swaying boy in a hood in all of its devotion and creatureliness, - even though it looked more crocodile than dog. I followed that dog about a hundred metres before sanity prevailed and I realised this was not one of the dogs from the book. The story ends there, I'm afraid; I didn't let it guide me any further. But it was a remarkable experience, and I thank you for it.

With best regards,

Mat Paskins"


Paul Lisicky said...

The honesty and attention to accuracy here is thrilling. And how great that he resists the sentimental conclusion, without disavowing the importance of that experience of seeing. I love his sense of wit throughout, the vividness of those details. The Harrow Road. A beautiful account.

(Does it show that I've been reading and marking up student manuscripts?)

lu said...

I'm totally going to plagiarize Paul's review for the next lusty teenage vampire story I have to grade. (snicker)
--That said- customers talk about Dog years often. We can't keep it in the store. Fire to Fire is flying out the door as well. Watermark Books and Cafe (come do a signing!)

Mark Doty said...

Thanks, Lu, that's just great! Where is Watermark, anyway?

lu said...

Watermark is in Wichita, Kansas.
Sarah Bagby is the President of the Midwest Booksellers Association.

Check out our events and "stuff"

lu said...

(Sarah is the owner of Watermark)