Afterglow (a dog memoir)

Afterglow (a dog memoir)

by Eileen Myles


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Prolific and widely renowned, 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). This newest book 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 (a dog memoir) 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, as well as the fantastical myths we spin to get to the heart of grief.

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 (a dog memoir) illuminates all that it can mean when we dedicate our existence to a dog.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802128553
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 09/18/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 503,803
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Eileen Myles is the author of more than twenty books, including Afterglow (a dog memoir), Inferno (a poet’s novel), Chelsea Girls, and Cool For You. Myles’s many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, four Lambda Literary Awards, the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, as well as grants from Creative Capital (nonfiction) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (poetry), and the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant.

Read an Excerpt


One day, in 1999, an awkward hand-addressed letter appeared in my hallway.

The mailman threw everything on the stairs. I grabbed the letter & headed with Rosie to the dog run which in that neighborhood was a skimpy little triangle at 39 th Street west of 9th Ave. It was an amazing perspective on mid-town roofs and also dull traffic heading to New Jersey. My neighbors were weird. Sad former actors. I liked the pink-cheeked older woman named Doris who walked everyone in the neighborhood's dogs including mine. This is like sixteen years ago so Doris is probably dead. Sitting on a bench while Rosie sniffed the ground I tore open the strange note. It read:

Dear Eileen,

I take the liberty of calling you "Eileen" to begin the unpleasant duty of forcing you to legally take responsibility for the damages you have inflicted over a period of nine years upon the being you have taken to calling "Rosie." I am Rosie's lawyer. Dog lawyers have only become possible in recent years, even months. Which is not to say crimes of all kinds against dogs are "new" in any way. Crimes against dogs are ancient and widespread, but dogs having the wherewithal to attain legal representation is new indeed. My services have been retained thanks to a generous bequest by an anonymous donor who set up a foundation in her will for the explicit purpose of identifying dogs who were likely litigants, candidates for beginning the long and arduous process of getting the ball rolling on dogs' rights. It's been clear to my client during her life and most pressingly at the time of her death that the best way to make this need known would be to take up an individual dog's case, not the case of "all dogs" which is too ubiquitous to pursue in the explicit way the law makes possible for human litigants, who are generally assumed to be individuals. A wealthy individual, of course, does not have more rights than a poor one. We are all brought up to honor "human rights," but only wealthy humans are able to use the full force of the law; i.e., obtain high quality representation. By this logic, there can be no freedom for dogs unless there are wealthy dogs. There is one today, the dog formerly known as Rosie. She has been left a significant sum of money in my client's will. She may spend it as she pleases with the single stipulation that she obtain counsel and press charges against her owner for a variety of abuses and crimes against dog kind. As you know, Eileen Myles, that owner is you.

It seemed unbelievable to me. Rosie was about ten. I looked at her licking an empty wrapper against the fence. She appeared entirely innocent of the letter's content. What? Are we already going home she seemed to say. Okay. I don't think she knows anything about this. I popped the leash back on and walked home planning my day. The loft we lived in was right across from Port Authority. Day and night I watched the lights of buses sail in and out of the building. I thought about the letter from time to time. I mean for years. I showed it to people. They laughed and smiled. Could Rosie and my entire relationship be framed as blame. I did force her to have sex with Buster that one time. No twice. Could I write a book about that. I've never been an "idea" writer. I have like a spurt then I go do something else. But this would be her book. A dog book is a great idea ...


Excerpted from "Afterglow"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Eileen Myles.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
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Table of Contents

[The Letter] 1

Protect Me You 4

My Dog/My God 11

The Death of Rosie 25

The Puppets' Talk Show 28

Goodnight, Sweet Queen 44

The Rape of Rosie 60

Just Before and Just After 66

x (transcription) 76

My Father Came Again as a Dog 88

xx 88


xxx 105

The Navel 108

The Order of Drinking (3-D) 112

xxxx 136

Dog House 141

"The Dog's Journey" 157

To the Post Office 176

The Walk 197

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