A Dog’s Life by Adam Scheffler
Adam Scheffler’s collection of poems titled A Dog’s Life is as American as it gets without being patriotic at all. Rather, Scheffler’s poems’ restful observance of life is what skillfully captures the “American way of life.” Scheffler’s poems prove that realistic writing that is not bogged down with superfluous conceits or intangible concepts can capture the reader’s attention immediately due to its simple straightforwardness. Scheffler’s all-too-common topics such as dogs, porn, Walmart, and lovers cannot escape the reader’s psyche because of their attachment to American culture. However, do not be fooled: while Scheffler’s poetic topics maybe unassuming, he crafts them in such a way that will leave the reader breathless. His words are brutally honest, and his hurried tone allows each image to stab readers in their veins.
Perhaps Scheffler’s most remarkable poems are “Woman and Dogs,” “Porn,” and “Walmart Poem.” The opening poem, “Woman and Dogs,” beautifully crafts the speaker’s admiration and subtle jealousy toward the dog’s closeness with his girlfriend. The speaker is aware that no one will ever know the girlfriend like her dog does; in fact, the only the only time the speaker feels superior to the dog is during sex. Having “Woman and Dogs” as the first poem in the collection provides the reader with an insightful understanding of Scheffler’s writing style. The writing style, of course, is how Scheffler takes ordinary things and in discussing them without any modification, reminds the reader about the value of “insignificant” things or occurrences. The same can be said about “Porn” and the “Walmart Poem.” The former may be called porn, but is actually talking about sex the entire time. Scheffler normalizes sex in a way that the common person can relate to, from small boobs to vanilla kink, where headboard-banging is replaced with the all-too-familiar (yet nostalgic) pulling-of-sheets climax. Even Scheffler’s prudish poems still prove to be entrancing, as seen in “Walmart Poem.” Scheffler takes Walmart—basically a totem figure of mundane America—and is somehow still capable of making the image of elderly women on their motorized chairs alluring.
Much of the deserved praise of Scheffler’s A Dog’s Life arises from his apparently effortless abilities to capture everyday life and showcase its high and lows, all by providing life candidly to the reader.
Reviewed by Madhura Nadarajah
$14.95 • 80 pages • Oct. 2016 • ISBN: 978-0-936481-11-1
A Dog’s Life by Adam Scheffler is available from Jacar Press
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