I found this to be a comfortable and comforting novella. Enjoyed it and will re-read tonight. This book said so much in so few pages. David Jaicks writing style evokes a resonance for the bittersweet travels we all share in life: the sadnesses, the loneliness, the joys and friendships. His words capture the characters so that we “knew” them instantly. The story line is a segment in the life of James and Benny (James’ dog). James observes the relationships between people “She seemed a little reticent but everyone had their way of joining. Some were more like Labradors doing it quickly with their tails wagging. Others preferred to be careful”.
As James touches the lives of others in small ways they change as does he. The last page is also a metaphor for life– there’s nothing wrong with where we are at but the rest of life is out there, beckoning to us. We ourselves have to take the first step in moving on to that next part of our life.. Loved the last sentence on the last page! Read the book and you’ll see why.
– Marjie Darling
I have enjoyed all of David Jaicks’ works – but Dog Park is my favorite. Jaicks has a style all his own and he writes beautiful poetry and prose. I tend to gravitate to his prose and character development, and in this, his third book, he has truly defined his storytelling and voice. Observations and sharp insights flow together effortlessly, and are punctuated with sentences that cut to the quick, Hemmingway style.
From the basic perspective of getting to know the regulars of a dog park (among other locations), Jaicks focuses in on the characters — their differences and the interactions that bring them together, beyond exercising their dogs (although dogs are characters in the storyline as well).
The book draws you in as Jaicks covers the fertile ground of human personalities. There is Claire, a guileless young woman who is at the point of her life where her choices will put her very different paths. There is the likable and clever Pete, who makes you think there is more going on than meets the eye. There are other characters and primarily the protagonist –a caring soul who can sometimes only stand by and watch things unfold. Through this window, Jaicks shows us a slice of the world in its sweet sadness and glory reflected by the characters and their situations.
You can read the book in a single sitting, as I did recently on a 4-hour flight, but don’t read it too fast, because there are parts that are better savored thoughtfully. And, as with his other books, it happened again, I came away with a fresh perspective. After all, isn’t that what good books do –take us out of our lives and make us look at and think about the world a little differently?
– Clifford Gately
Great Barrington’s David Agar Jaicks has released a follow-up to his 2010 poetry book”Driving Home.”
In “Dog Park” he veers away from standard poetry and has written his first published short story about a man, James, and his relationship with his beloved dog, Benny. (Perhaps James is Jaicks himself but that is unclear.)
Benny consistently draws James into social interactions that, due to his quiet, reserved personality, would have passed him by otherwise.
Like Jaicks previous work, “Dog Park” is a gift book akin to an exteded, touching greeting card that is appropriate for a one-
sitting first read.
Although not a collection of poems, it is a collection of both characters and reflective prose chapters that are poetic in overall quality.
Jaicks builds a light familiarity with some of the people James encounters frequently, but the reader is not tied to the plotline.
In subsequent readings, one can easily open the pages to favorite passages for a brief respite, or to simply take in the summer-like atmospere of the rolling hills of the small dog park in which Benny is free to frolic.
Underneath the surface of James’ encounters, a basic humanity is shared among a diverse demographic; people who are pulled together by the shared interest of dog ownership.
Jaicks has a simple, sraightforward approach to pointing out a kinship where, outside a central focused location, there would assumedly be none.
James’ thoughts are a pleasant mix of contemplations triggered by natural stimuli like sights along the road, and reactions to activities happening around him.
Jaicks stays true to James’ nature by staying away from bravado actions that alter the courses of lives, and , instead, shows how gentle living can create ripples of change for the better as people simply get to know each other.
He has a knack for sifting through common day-to-day moments and uncovering little jewels of subtle meaning.
– The Berkshire Eagle