— From “Afterglow (a dog memoir)” (Grove Press, 2017, Page 191), by Eileen Myles, the author of 20 books of poetry and prose.

Certain writers make you want to write. Something about the motion of their sentences lures your mind so close to theirs that, without even trying, in the absolutely normal course of reading, you absorb some of their creative energy. It’s the literary equivalent of an estuary: A river flows into an ocean, and the ocean flows right back into the river, and the mixing of salt water and fresh water creates a magic zone of abundant life where young fish gather and hover and feast and grow.

Eileen Myles is an estuary of a writer. The voice on the page is so fluid and expressive and unembarrassed that it makes you want to join it. Myles’s sentences tilt and wobble like a living mind: “Yet this inbetweenness, this aloneness, hear it now, is holy.” The energy breathes from writer to reader and back again. To read this prose is practically to write your own first draft.

This impulse is made explicit near the end of Myles’s new book, in a footnote: “You do it too, writer, do not be shy.” Myles encourages the reader, as casually as you might urge a small child to try to skip a rock, to write a book like this one: a memoir of a dearly departed dog. As if shyness is the only thing that might stand in the way of someone writing a book.

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