Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging


We continue our review of authors which I aspire to emulate (plagiarize). [Stravinski:”Mediocre composers imitate; great composers, Steal!]

A Three Dog Life is an autobiographical narrative of Abigail Thomas. (1)  Thomas has penned an open diary in her middle-to-mature years. It is startlingly honest, and it expresses emotions with rare authenticity. Anyone who has experienced grief will empathize with the author. Baby boomers will have flash-backs to the sixties and recognize the necessary accommodation to the years of maturation.

This book is a beautiful stream of consciousness narration from a very sensitive person. Personally, I could never  cope with James Joyce,  the stream of consciousness in Ulysses (2) but I immediately fell in lock-step cadence with Abigail Thomas. I found myself thinking of her by her first name.  Her thoughts elevate ordinary feelings to be the most universal – “I’ve felt just like that!” – some feelings are for lovers, some for friends, some for kids, some for pets.

Without ever mentioning The Five Stages of Grief,  Thomas lives and displays them in an incredibly intimate story, not of loss by death but of a dramatically, life-altering  traumatic brain injury in her husband and love-of-her-life-partner, Rich. You are probably familiar with the Kübler-Ross model of grief, which describes  a series of emotional stages experienced by survivors of an intimate’s death [in this case brain damage], wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (3)

To me, this tale has the bitter-sweet feelings that are the emotional equivalent of semi-sweet chocolate or sweet and sour Chinese food.

The autobiography begins when Abigail is 46  and Rich is  57.   Both have been previously married and have had children. They found one another through a personal ad in a newspaper.    This narrative starts as a typical life of a middle-aged couple, In a single minute, their life turned into an uncommon life.  The husband sustains a traumatic brain injury. Because he cannot remember his life before, his wife Abigail (author and narrator) reaches across and joins him in his new world. Following her husband’s accident (he was tragically hit by a car while out walking, Harry, the dog), Thomas begins to live alone with her dogs (starting with  one, Harry, adding Rosy, then Carolina for the set)  while her husband lives in  assisted living.  Thomas shares her life where the-before, is lost irretrievably.. Thomas summons the strength, both to rebuild her life and to be a source of strength to her husband.

This story is a one -full -Kleenex box book.  Abigail (forgive the first name) relates to her children, grandchildren, husband, ex-husbands, students, friends and even strangers, so honestly, so charitably and with surprising sensitivity, you will not be able to be indifferent.  She does this while proceeding through  the customary defense mechanisms

I seldom like the stage voice of an author reading their book. However, with  Thomas, with this material, it is a bonus!

Abigail Thomas, A Three Dog Life, paper,, 2006, also: Audiobooks and Kindle

Charles Canton Rogers    –  Revised September 11, 2015, Thank you fo “Flying Zebra” If you Like this, consider hitting my rebog or FB buttons.

(1) Abigail Thomas is unquestionable; an accomplished critically acknowledged the author in her right. I found it interesting that her father was Lewis Thomas, a physician/ scientist/ author,  who has been a favorite of mine for decades. [Lives of a Cell and  The Medusa and the Snail]

For an extra treat, in the Audiobooks edition, Thomas reads the book herself. I seldom like the stage voices of most authors, but with Abigail relating this personal story, it works beautifully.

Charles Clanton Rogers, AB, MD, FACR   Emeritus Professor GWU

Revised September 11, 2015

(2) Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in February 1922,

(3) The model was first introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying,  Macmillan, NY, NY 1969

10 thoughts on “Blogger’s GPS: Abigail Thomas – A Three Dog Life

  1. Katie Paul says:

    I discovered you through Janice’s blog and I guessed you might be one of those older men with a wicked twinkle in his eye. I’m not sure if I’m right yet, but I’d like to find out.

    It is somewhat of a coincidence that this is the post that greets me on your blog — this book is one of my absolute favourites.

    Anyhow, I just want to say it’s a pleasure to meet you Mr Rogers and I hope you blog for years and years to come x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. clanton1934 says:

      It is great meet you Katie. Thanks for the Like and please tell Janice. She likes to know about her referrals. c

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    Here follows a “review of the reviewer’s review”.

    An excellent review! Full of valuable information!

    The reviewing reader – in this case Charles Rogers – describes, by using vivid and expressive metaphors, his own reactions and feelings when getting into touch with the author Abigail Thomas and her everyday thoughts and emotions built/based on true or at least half-true experiences originating from her own life.

    Although living a seemingly commonplace and everyday life, Abigail Thomas is nonetheless able to draw the readers’ attention to many grains of gold worth pondering.

    The reviewer, i.e. Charles Rogers, obviously likes what he sees and has no problem recognizing many of these grains of gold, often by finding them similar to those he himself has discovered during his own life journey.

    One thing is for sure, Charles Rogers definitely likes what he is served by Abigail Thomas.

    May I suggest the reviewer that he, in coming book reviews, also uses the tool of adding some conspicuous quotes taken from the book he is reviewing, in order to underline what makes the reviewed author and his/her novels so enchanting and agreeable to become acquainted with? Quotes that make it easier for all of us to understand why just that author is worth being read.

    I just googled for some quotes taken from the reviewed book and found, for example, these:

    1) “Dogs are never in a bad mood over something you said at breakfast. Dogs never sniff at the husks of old conversations, or conduct autopsies on weekends gone wrong. An unexamined life may not be worth living, but the overexamined life is hell. We talk too much.”

    2) “Well now I know I can control my tongue, my temper & my appetites, but that’s it. I have no effect on weather, traffic or luck. I can’t make good things happen; I can’t keep anybody safe; I can’t influence the future & I can’t fix up the past. What a relief!”

    3) “Well now I know I can control my tongue, my temper & my appetites, but that’s it. I have no effect on weather, traffic or luck. I can’t make good things happen; I can’t keep anybody safe; I can’t influence the future & I can’t fix up the past. What a relief!”

    What do you think, Kung Karl? Are these quotes doing full justice to the book you just reviewed? What are your own favorite quotes taken from that same novel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Thank you, my cyber buddy for improving the review of “everyman’s dilemma with life” “I can not control what happens to
      Me: I can control how I Respond to it!”

      I suggest that we republish the Review , a new, with Joint authorship, you and me. I will use my Swedish nom de plume; what’s yours, BB?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bbnewsab says:

    Glad you liked my “review”.

    What about Kung (meaning King) Karl and Prins (meaning Prince) Valiant as our special noms de plume? :o)


    1. clanton1934 says:

      I like that! Now, I want you to rewrite the review incorporating you editorial comments; author it with our nom de plumes and then publish it on you web site. Seriously, humor me! K

      Liked by 1 person

  4. clanton1934 says:

    Prin Val,
    I think you have created the “Roundtable of Sweden”
    Where have you taken Genivere?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Hey Val!
      We could become “The Siskel & Ebert” of Sweden!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bbnewsab says:

        Had to google Siskel & Ebert.

        Never heard of them before.

        When it comes to reviewing, Kung Karl, you are the man to do that kind of thing. I seldomly read books. But of course that doesn’t mean I dislike books. On the contrary.

        I’m a rather fidgety man, you see. In a constant need of calming down. That’s why I like your blog so much. Your words of wisdom “forces” me to stop my running in the hamster wheel and instead starting to mull over the topics you choose to blog about.

        That’s why I so often call our relationship here on the web a win/win “alliance”.


      2. clanton1934 says:

        Yeah, that’s fine but what about “Genivere and The Roundtable of Sweden”? KK


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