Why We Live with Animals

Alvin Greenberg, Author, Gaylord Schanilec, Illustrator Coffee House Press $8.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-918273-78-9
This charming book-length sonnet sequence answers what Greenberg ( Heavy Wings ) believes is the only serious question: ``why do we live with animals/with all those people waiting to be our pals . . . ?'' In reply, he tells us that we keep animals (most often household dogs and cats, here) because they need us--``oh, it's lovely to be missed.sic to justify / one's comings and goings by another's needs.'' Animals freely share their bliss in sheer being, and protect us from mysterious or evil forces. They alter our vision, teaching us ``how all the colors and dispositions they've shared / with us won't let the world be merely what we think.'' In Greenberg's poems, animals evoke nostalgia for lost childhood and restore for us the primeval world of our ancestors--bones and blood. They are an essential mirror; without them, we cannot discover our true natures. Greenberg sometimes strays from his subject into discussions of free enterprise, the environment and subatomic particles; his poems are least interesting when only incidentally linked to his main theme. But most are marvelously companionable, convincing us that ``if animals didn't exist, we'd have to invent them.'' (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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