Afterglow is a wry, gorgeous, psychedelic effort to plumb the subject of dog-human partnership —which, in its generic form, is the subject of many cheesy movies and bumper stickers ('Who Rescued Who?') but which, with Myles and Rosie, appears as an exceptional power struggle, a thought experiment about the limits of consciousness, creativity, and love ... There is a destabilizing, unrelenting directness in Myles’s writing, and Afterglow is like the Just Kids of dog books: a punk devotional, shot through with a sort of divine attention to material reality and a poet’s associative leaps ... Here, through Myles’s keen and rough-edged sensibility, all the dog-owner clichés seem revivified and almost occult. How strange it is that one consciousness can do the work of two—that a human can heap words around the wordless soul of an animal and in doing so give it life after death.
Afterglow portrays a complex and often hilarious relationship between two animals, characterized by love and a deep interrogation of power, creativity, and point of view ... Of all the human foibles examined in the book, it is our inability to live in a moment—for the moment—that is most profoundly explored. Some writers portray the experience of raising a child as an opportunity to live a second childhood, at least vicariously. For Myles, it’s a dog that becomes the surrogate, or perhaps the midwife, for a sort of vicarious enlightenment ... Throughout the book, Myles accentuates and diminishes the distance between the multiplying voices and styles. Afterglow becomes an ever-deepening investigation into the nature of human-being-ness, self-knowledge, and knowing things outside of yourself ... A book that’s wise to miscommunication but hungry to overcome it, Afterglow celebrates that rare authorial ability to get out of one’s own way and show us a singular and limber mind roaming free.
If you’ve read Eileen Myles before, you know that her new book is surely not going to be Marley & Me or The Art of Racing in the Rain. You’ll laugh, and you’ll cry, yes, but you’ll also think hard, as you work to pull together the many disparate, cosmic, and charming notions Myles sets forth ... Afterglow is a challenging read that spirals up into big and little thoughts all inspired by her beloved companion, bringing in seemingly unrelated topics along the way such as the 'self-war' of Kurt Cobain, libraries, gender identity, Abu Ghraib, George W. Bush’s farts, and, at some length, sea foam ... Myles writes that she doesn’t want to stop talking to Rosie, that she has written the book, she says, 'to keep talking to her.' Luckily for us, we can eavesdrop on that long, wry, far-flung, and wonderfully loving conversation.