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Even the Dogs. Jon McGregor by Jon McGregor
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Even the Dogs. Jon McGregor (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Jon McGregor

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3094536,089 (3.3)46
Member:UPFLUNG
Title:Even the Dogs. Jon McGregor
Authors:Jon McGregor
Info:Bloomsbury UK (2011), Paperback, 208 pages
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Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor (2010)

  1. 10
    Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Both bleak but well-written stories of addiction.
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English (44)  French (1)  All (45)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Well, this made for somewhat odd Yom Kippur reading. Strong start, strong finish, indifferent middle. Hated, hated, hated the way it was written. I'm all for taking chances with style, but the random sentence fragments were driving me nuts. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Grim subject matter but interesting style of writing. Heavy on observation and description, and somewhere in the middle you realise all the different stories being told, hinted at, solidifying almost. Always a sense of waiting, waiting to find out what will happen, what has happened... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
When I began reading this book the characters disgusted me. The world McGregor portrays is so foreign and sinister to what I am used to (thank goodness I suppose) that I found it quite unsettling reading. It is a world of drug users, alcoholics and delinquents; where the most urgent and important need is to make enough money for the next score. By the end of the novel, i can't say i liked any of the characters, but they became more human. I pitied them. I hoped for something positive amongst the ashes and squalor.

I found it to be a rather cautionary tale; nothing good comes from this lifestyle, and most of the characters come to a rather gristly end. Yet it gives the addicts; the homeless; the forgotten people in society a face and a voice - even if what that voice says is something that makes us uncomfortable, and we would rather be deaf to it.

Well written and thought provoking. ( )
  tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
I love Jon McGregor's writing style. I think I've said before that he has a poetic, lyrical quality to his work that makes it stand out from the rest. This book is no different in this respect, but unlike his previous books (If No-one Speaks of Remarkable Things & So Many Ways to Begin) this subject matter is harder hitting, gritty.

We're following the story of Robert, a housebound alcholic. After his wife leaves, taking their small daughter with her, he becomes increasingly isolated, never leaving the house, steadily drinking more and more. As time passes, he becomes 'friends' with a selection of the underclass of life: various homeless with various addictions and issues.

But we find this out in flashback - our story starts when his body is discovered in the flat having been there for some days. We follow the journey of the corpse as it goes through the various procedures: police arriving, soc officers doing their jobs, the body being removed and stored, the autopsy, the coroner's court and finally the services before cremation. All through this journey we are accompanied by 'we' - at the beginning, we don't know who 'we' are, but as the story progresses it becomes increasingly clear and 'We' are acting as some sort of Greek Chorus, following the events and commenting on how we got here.... and the story unfolds.

Despite the subject and procedures that are being described, it's a very empathetic book. You feel for these people, each of them brought low by circumstances. (One story is particularly moving: p114, end of Chapter3, where we find out Ant's back story, juxtaposed with the journey of drugs into the country. In fact, this is one of the pieces that Jon McGregor read at the Edinburgh Book Fest last year and part of why I wanted to read this book). You also see the dignity of how each part of the process treats the body (again, one part that moved me was during the autopsy (p129/130) where the corpse is washed, gently, delicately & the final sentence of that section " Nearest he's come to a bath in years".)

As the story progresses, you can see all too clearly (too painfully) what must have happened and what became of each of our cast of characters. The sheer pity of it all, so many wasted lives blighted by circumstance & a spiral of degredation. A harsh, but probably true, comment on our society today.

I'm so glad I read this!

btw @jon_mcgregor actually tweeted me when I tweeted that this was my #fridayread and apparently he's nearly finished his next book:

"New book nearly done. "This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You." Long title, short stories."

"Out Feb next year, as long as I finish it by the end of this month... Short stories, with a long title."

I can't wait!

Also see the synopsis on the Waterstones website: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/jon mcgregor/even the dogs/7785881/ ( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
So this is the first book by Jon Mcgregor that I've attempted to read and I just found it

This book lacks puntuation and doesn't finish

I mean try reading it and you will

If this is his writing syle then I won't ( )
  Nataliec7 | Jan 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
“Even the Dogs,” McGregor’s third novel, continues his experiments with the devices of fiction. The book is narrated by a group of urban ghosts, victims of drug overdoses who look on as someone they know, Robert Radcliffe, is found dead in his shabby apartment. Other friends, family members and acquaintances, most of whom were part of Robert’s life, come in and out of focus as they move around the city looking for their next fixes and, along with the police and investigators, ­respond to Robert’s death.

As a novel about the consequences of addiction — particularly heroin addiction — “Even the Dogs” is harrowing. It details the physical, psychological, social and environmental damage, and portrays the all-consuming nature of the life: “Always working and watching and chasing around for a bag of that. Jesus but. The man-hours that go into living like this. Takes some dedication.”
 
Even the Dogs is set among the underclass of an anonymous English city. The narrative is structured around the sudden death of Robert, a chronic alcoholic, and follows the state's processing of his corpse and the impact of its discovery on the ragged group of addicts and down-and-outs who surround him in his final years.

Their story is narrated in a voice that, like them, is both striking and elusive. It inhabits the first person plural, often functioning like the directions in a film script ("We see someone getting out of a taxi") but also showing signs of having its own history ("We never met Yvonne but we see her now") and attitudes ("We're not sure what else we can do").

Even the Dogs is a courageous and passionate novel and shows McGregor to be one of the few young English writers taking genuine risks with language and form. If some of them fail to pay off, there is no less to admire, no less nerve and ingenuity, in the attempt.
 
On his website, McGregor – who's best known for his Booker-longlisted first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002) – names James Kelman and William Faulkner as the new book's literary models. With their help, he strikes a neat balance between depicting a semi-abstract landscape of suffering and grounding the characters' experiences firmly in history. His occasional use of the language of damnation and salvation doesn't tip over into would-be Beckett-like posturing, while the deep backgrounds to some of his character's problems – the Falklands war, Thatcher-era unemployment and, in one memorable passage, Afghanistan – are neither deployed as clinching revelations nor put on show as grand themes. McGregor also shows a fine ear for several varieties of regional speech, and exerts strict but not obsessive control over his initially formless-looking story. His reportorial absorption in the characters' world, with its restricted range of tone and incident, makes this powerful novel seem all the more resourcefully put together.
 
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Cut off from hope, we live on in desire.

—Dante Aligheri, The Inferno
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to Alice
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They break down the door at the end of December and carry the body away.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747599440, Hardcover)

They break down the door at the end of December and carry his body away. On a still and frozen day between Christmas and New Year, a man's body is found lying in his ruined flat. Found, and then taken away, examined, investigated and cremated. As the state begins its detailed, dispassionate inquest, the man embarks on his last journey through a world he has not ventured into, alive, for years. In his wake, a series of fractured narratives emerge from squats and alleyways across the city: the short and stark story of the man, and of his friends who look on from the shadows, keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage. As they watch, their stories unfurl layer by layer; stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress and the disregard of the wider world. Intense, exhilarating, and shot through with hope and fury, Even the Dogs is an intimate exploration of life at the edges of society; littered with love, loss, despair and a glimpse of redemption.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:18 -0400)

"On a still and frozen day between Christmas and New Year, a man's body is found lying in his ruined flat. Found, and then taken away, examined, investigated and cremated. As the state begins its detailed, dispassionate inquest, the man embarks on his last journey through a world he has not ventured into, alive, for years. In his wake, a series of fractured narratives emerge from squats and alleyways across the city: the short and stark story of the man, and of his friends who look on from the shadows, keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage. As they watch, their stories unfurl layer by layer; stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress and the disregard of the wider world. Intense, exhilarating, and shot through with hope and fury, Even the Dogs is an intimate exploration of life at the edges of society; littered with love, loss, despair and a glimpse of redemption." -- Book cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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