Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto (2019. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451689808)
Old Horse, What is to be Done? by Stephen Kuusisto (2020. Tiger Bark. ISBN 9781732901260)
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the author/poet of these two books for the Finnish American Reporter. I’d run across Steve’s work when I picked up a copy of his first memoir, Planet of the Blind (see review in the archives of this blog) and was, frankly, blown away by the man’s command of language. Here, Kuusisto is at it again, chronicling his experiences with his first guide dog, Corky, in Have Dog. Crisp, succinct in language, the depictions of a family in turmoil and parental ignorance (how else do you explain a mother insisting her blind son is able to to ride a bicycle in traffic?) coupled with Kuusisto’s admiration and love for the gift of mobility Corky provided makes for a compelling, if tragically short (for this reader, anyway!) memoir that is a fine follow up to Planet.
4 and 1\/2 stars out of 5.
Old Horse is a slender collection of poems and prose poems based, not only in Kuusisto’s imagination and the Northeast of the United States where Kuusisto hangs his hat, but also with allusions to and scenes set in his grandfather’s Finnish homeland. Clever, tender, and with bits of Finnish wit sewn into the fabric of this short, vibrant wording of his work, Kuusisto makes reading poetry, something I rarely do, a pleasure. I only wish, as with the author’s memoirs, this book was longer so I could spend more time in blissful enjoyment of words.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.
Both books are solid, engaging reads in their own way.