Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

Jon McGregor is an author which has impressed many people with his first two novels, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin.

Even the Dogs is McGregor’s third novel and begins with the body of a man called Robert being discovered in his squalid flat where he has been laid dead for days. Robert was an alcoholic who during his life had frequent visits throughout the day and night from his friends who are all drug addicts.

The novel follows an unnamed observer which darts about from Roberts’s life to those of his friends giving glimpses into their daily life’s and pasts.

Given the topic and the lives of the characters you'd expect this book to be grim, which it is. This is not an uplifting story with happy endings but rather a look at the lives of people who for whatever reason have fallen through the safety net our society is meant to provide.

The addicts featured in the novel live in a bleak world and I have no doubt that they would quite happily sell their own grandmother in exchange for drugs. Bizarrely as well these characters slightly merge into each-other as the drugs strip away the personality's that they might have been once in possession of. The characters do not resort to crime in the novel (well very little) which surprised me at first but when you read on you realise why.

The writing style is poetic but also experimental. The narrative jumps quickly from character to character and sentences stop halfway through. This sounds annoying but it really isn't, it suits the storyline and the overall effect is moving.

The subject matter along with the swearing and general misery might put people off reading this but that would be a shame as this is a realistic insight into the lives of some once ordinary people. At the very least its worth checking out some other blogger reviews.

Verdict 4/5

Posted by Jess


  1. I was impressed with If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, and have been trying to decide whether this one should be added to my wish list... you've convinced me that I need to read it. Thanks.

  2. I would like to read this but unfortunately experimental writing styles can really put me off. I'll take your word for it that it's not annoying though.

  3. It sounds as though we had very similar reactions to this beautifully written, but dark book. I'm really interested to see how the TV book club discuss it!

  4. I did start to read If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things a few years back and while I was loving the language, I gave up about half-way in as little seemed to be happening.

    I probably should give him another go at some point.

  5. JoAnn - I think from the general reviews, ppl who liked the authors first books will like this one. I'll certainly be picking up his previous ones now.

    Sam - I made it sound annoying but it really isn't but I know what you mean. Perhaps its worth reading a couple of pages in a bookshop and deciding from there?

    Jackie - I can't imagin Jo Brand liking this one! I think that will be a really good episode and I look forward to the author interview.

    Darren - I think perhaps then this author just isn't for you? I did read one bad review of this on another blog but the blogger also didn't like his previous books either.

  6. I have been discussing this book, without having read it, a lot recently and being told I really should give it a whirl. Maybe I will now as I really like your thoughts on it and it appeals as much as his first one did only this one I might like.