Utne Blogs > Literature

If We Were More Like Dogs

 by Julie Hanus

Tags: essay writing, Tin House, Chris Adrian, dogs, relationships, childhood,

The Summer Reading issue of fiction-juggernaut Tin House arrived today, but it was an essay that caught my eye: “A Good Creature,” by Chris Adrian (excerpt only available online), which darts fluidly between the present and the past, weaving together recollections of fabled family dogs and reflections on a recent breakup.

“My ex-boyfriend tells me he’s thinking of getting a dog,” Adrian begins. “This is significant to me for a few reasons. We have only been broken up for about a month, and in that time I’ve managed to put off absolutely none of the habits of mind I developed when we were together, so it still feels like we are together, and so in some pathetic way I consider him to be thinking of getting a dog for us.”

It’s clear, though, that the tendency to develop habits of the mind—those tenacious neural connections and associations—has served Adrian well as a writer. As “A Good Creature” unfolds, his ability to make gentle, slightly surreal connections between disparate threads of thought is a pleasure to read. By the end, everything is touchingly jumbled: "My ex-boyfriend wants a dog, and I want to be like a dog," he writes. "You'd think we could come to some sort of accommodation."