Open Reading Period Selection


ISBN: 978-1-62557-025-3
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Animal Disorders

Publication Date: September 2021


Animal disorders—those erratic, contradictory, irrational relationships that humans have with their nonhuman compatriots—abound in contemporary U.S. culture. In a series of personal essays, Deborah Thompson relates her own complicity in some of these disordered approaches to nonhuman animals, including such practices as pet-keeping, animal hoarding, animal sacrifice (both religious and scientific), magical thinking, and grieving. The sometimes funny, sometimes poignant essays in this collection deliver dispatches from one representative sufferer of animal disorders.


Animal Disorders is a compassionate but clear-eyed critique of the contradictions and hypocrisies embedded in humankind’s messy relationship with animals. In reflective, lovely, often funny prose, Deborah Thompson explores the deep emotions that animals evoke in us, and the ways that emotion, especially grief, upends our beliefs about animals, about ourselves, and about our place in the world.

–Claire Boyles, author of Site Fidelity

In this elegant and moving collection of essays, Deborah Thompson renders for us the aftermath of her husband’s death from cancer. Grief leads her to reflect on animal companions, from a childhood hamster to dogs fostered later in life. She feels with and through them, poignantly imagining a blue heron as her husband reborn. In the strongest tradition of the essay, Thompson performs a rigorous self-examination, and the outcome is a book that reimagines love.

–Marcia Aldrich, author of Girl Rearing

About the Author

Deborah Thompson

Debby Thompson is a Professor of English at Colorado State University, where teaches literature and creative nonfiction. She has published creative and critical essays, and has won the Missouri Review and Iowa Review awards in creative nonfiction, as well as a Pushcart prize. She is the author of Pretzel, Houdini, and Olive: Essays on the Dogs of My Life, published by Red Hen Press, and is working on a nonfiction book on mythologies of dogs in American culture.

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