Saturday, January 29, 2011
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.' - Wikipedia"
So begins A Three Dog Life, but it has as much to do with dogs as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It's a memoir written by a woman whose husband gets hit by a car and becomes a new man because of traumatic brain injury, and how she copes.
One of my favorite chapters taught me about Outsider Art, which is basically art made by people with no formal training, but was originally a term reserved for the art made by insane-asylum inmates. Abigail begins collecting Outsider Art made by the residents of the rehabilitation center her husband is at who have also suffered brain trauma, almost obsessively. She then seeks out Outsider Art made by people with brain injuries in galleries. She discovers there is an Outsider Art Fair and goes. She also shares descriptions of her own husband's art.
I was fascinated by the fractured conversations she shared with her husband, especially the ones that made sense even when they weren't supposed to. She talked about how one time her friend got a new dog and brought it over for a play date. The dogs were all running around the house, barking like crazy and being silly, making the author and her friend laugh and laugh. Suddenly the phone rang. It was her husband calling from the rehabilitation center (a few miles away) asking if she could keep the dogs quiet!
The book is generally anecdotal. I wouldn't recommend this book to most people because many of the chapters were sad and some were just uninteresting (there's a chapter where she tells us what's in her refrigerator). However, I think people who have loved others who have dealt with brain trauma will find this book comforting. My friend's dad suffered from a stroke and hasn't been the same since. Some of the things she's told me about him reminded me of the man in this book. I suggested she read A Three Dog Life and she told me she had already read it and liked it very much.
This is my first book finished for my 2011 To Be Read Challenge. I borrowed it from my mother-in-law on June 18, 2009 and thought it was time to get it back to her!