The Best Memoirs of 2017
Afterglow is just that intimate. Part elegy, part meditation, part performance art, the 2012 Guggenheim Fellow’s 21st book reflects on her beloved pit bull, Rosie, who died in 2006. Transcribed video recordings of their strolls in San Diego are intercut with recollections and imagined scenes. Rosie, Myles observes, was the “mainstay of my liturgy for sixteen point five almost seventeen years. She was observed. I was companioned, seen.
The Chelsea Girls author even contends, half jokingly, that Rosie is the reincarnation of her father, who fell from a roof and died shortly after, when she was 11. In a late section, Myles invents and assumes a persona, Bo Jean Harmonica, to explore her alcoholism and the AA meetings where she “learned to speak” and to “choose-listen.” And finally, Myles allows her pooch to narrate the last chapters, in which Rosie writes to the poet from the afterlife. It’s in these sections that the memoir delivers its poignant, sweeping crescendo, a contemplation of grief. “What’s lost has more power than what is saved,” Rosie opines, urging Myles to go on living and writing without her. Lucky for us, she has done just that.