Tuesday, 24 July 2007

My latest read

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Australian Aborigines slept with their dogs for warmth on cold nights, the coldest being "a three dog night". This wonderful book tells, with delicacy and intelligence, what Abigail's life is like since her husband sustained a serious head injury after being knocked down. Her husband has to be cared for in hospital and Abigail lives alone now, with her beloved dogs, accepting the reality of her "three dog life", while still being wedded absolutely to Richard.

It is a long time since I have devoured a book in such a short space of time. There is no self-pity here, but plenty of humour and oodles of intelligence and a poetic rhythm to the text that is as nourishing as good food.

Richard's injuries are severe, he has lost his long-term memory, he is not always easy to be with. But with the loss of memory an innocence and straight-to-the-mark directness have emerged. Abigail obviously takes great delight in the luminous phrases that he comes out with and records them carefully:

"If I wasn't with you and we weren't getting food, the dark would envelop my soul" he says cheerfully as they are walking to his room one afternoon.

"I feel like a tent that wants to be a kite, tugging at my stakes" he says one day out of the blue.

Wonderful, miraculous, dazzling flashes from a man in darkness.

I picked up the book, attracted by the title. I read it because, as a widow, I am always looking for any insight I can get into how to live a decent life after your life plan is shot to hell and you are kicked out of the playground where the "normals" live. I am glad I found it.

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