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Even the Dogs [Kindle Edition]

Jon McGregor
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

On a cold, quiet day between Christmas and the New Year, a man's body is found in an abandoned apartment. His friends look on, but they're dead, too. Their bodies found in squats and sheds and alleyways across the city. Victims of a bad batch of heroin, they're in the shadows, a chorus keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage as their friend's body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated. All of their stories are laid out piece by broken piece through a series of fractured narratives. We meet Robert, the deceased, the only alcoholic in a sprawling group of junkies; Danny, just back from uncomfortable holidays with family, who discovers the body and futiley searches for his other friends to share the news of Robert's death; Laura, Robert's daughter, who stumbles into the junky's life when she moves in with her father after years apart; Heather, who has her own place for the first time since she was a teenager; Mike, the Falklands War vet; and all the others. Theirs are 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. These invisible people live in a parallel reality, out of reach of basic creature comforts, like food and shelter. In their sudden deaths, it becomes clear, they are treated with more respect than they ever were in their short lives. 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 half-glimpse of redemption.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This mercifully short third novel from McGregor (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things) is told from the various perspectives of a loosely connected band of down-and-outers linked by Robert, a hopeless alcoholic whose wife has taken their daughter and left him alone in his flat, which has since become a gathering place for the members of McGregor's cast. Robert's death sets in motion the novel's events—it would be misleading to call it a plot—starting with the police taking away his body. For the most part, we're with Danny, whose past gradually comes to light via an expletive-laced narration that verges on incoherence: his foster home upbringing; his relationship with Robert's daughter, Laura, whom Danny is trying to contact; and of course, his heroin addiction, which provides much of the novel's subject matter. In the process, we learn about the group that frequented Robert's flat, a motley crew who provide plenty of sordid stories. But the central mystery—how did Robert die?—goes nowhere, and the spliced-in set pieces that describe the stages Robert's body undergoes on its way to eventual cremation don't do any favors for this misfire. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In his third novel, two-time Booker nominee McGregor follows a band of ghostly drug addicts, who act as a Greek chorus as they witness their friend Robert’s body being carted out of his squalid apartment and taken to the morgue. Among them is Danny, an abused victim of the foster-care system; Steve, a traumatized war vet; and Heather, a once-popular groupie now an aging wreck. Robert himself gave into alcoholism years ago after his wife left him, taking their young daughter with her. Paralyzed by their desertion, he continued to drink himself into oblivion while serving as the toastmaster to neighborhood addicts, who, in turn, exhaust themselves in an endless round of scoring, eating, scrounging up money, and scoring again. With its complex flashback structure, fractured inner monologues, and grim characters, this novel makes for dense reading. Yet McGregor succeeds in paying homage to the dispossessed and the hopeless, who live and die on the margins of society. --Joanne Wilkinson

Product Details

  • File Size: 292 KB
  • Print Length: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (April 22, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003HD2L04
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,855 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Read About Drug Addiction and Death February 26, 2010
Story Overview

During the Christmas holidays, a man is found dead in his flat. It appears he has been there for quite some time. The flat is squalid, filthy, empty of most things you would expect. The man's body is in bad shape. The police are unsure if there has been foul play and begin an investigation. Who is this man? How did he come to by lying here ... dead and apparently neglected ... in this seemingly abandoned apartment?

There are voices who could shed light on this mystery. They seem to know this man--Robert is his name. But they don't know what happened to him either. So they follow along as the investigation into the man's death continues ... following the body to the morgue, through the autopsy and inquest and finally to his cremation. Along the way, the voices shed light on who they are and who Robert was. For these voices are the voices of addicts, alcoholics and the disenfranchised--the people who live at the fringes of society, who remember better days but can't quite make their way out of the grip of drugs or drink. In their way, they attempt to give Robert a story. By doing so, they honor their friend in the only way that have left as they themselves are as dead and neglected as Robert.

My Thoughts

I'm not going to lie to you; this isn't an easy book. There were times when I was ready to quit as I was confused and getting a headache. But because I got a review copy, I persevered and I'm glad I did. In the end, I came to appreciate the book and found myself moved by it. Just because a book is a difficult read doesn't mean it isn't worth reading. However, there are things you should know going in.

First, the book is not written in a straightforward narrative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflecting a dark and dismal reality January 20, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The police discover Robert's decaying body on the floor of his flat. Robert's friends have been dropping by for a week, leaving after banging on the unanswered door. Robert's friend Danny finally breaks in and discovers the corpse before fleeing in a panic. Danny searches for someone to tell -- Robert's daughter Laura or his friend Mike -- but gives a greater priority to scoring drugs. As the novel progresses we meet other people in Robert's world and learn about his past. We also hear about the wartime experiences of two characters, one of whom became addicted after losing a leg. The novel ends with a coroner's inquest into the cause of Robert's death.

Even the Dogs is a story of wasted lives, of lives spent waiting: for drugs, for government checks, for the soup van, for group therapy to be over, for death. Most of the first part of the novel is told from Danny's point of view. The remainder is narrated by Robert's friends: unseen, ghostlike observers of his death's aftermath. Other than Robert, who drinks heavily but doesn't take drugs, the characters tend to blend together: each is driven by the same desire to get high, each is mired in a dreary existence.

The novel's narrative style is fractured, as are the characters. When Danny is narrating, paragraphs typically end with unfinished sentences. Yet portions of this novel are written in achingly beautiful prose. For that, I give the novel four stars, but I can't say that it was a complete pleasure to read. It's important for novels like this to be written, to reflect the dark and dismal realities of life, but dismal reading isn't fun reading. If you're looking for a story of redemption or personal growth, you won't find it here. If you don't want to be depressed by your reading, find a different book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As I Lay Dying December 3, 2010
Jon McGregor's books are never an easy read, but they are worth the effort. If the reader is willing to go with the flow of the stream of consciousness, not need to know exactly where they are or who is narrating, their persistence will eventually pay off, everything will fall into place and the sheer scope of what the book has achieved is likely to have an impact that is profound and unforgettable. That at least was the case with the author's first two books - If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin. Even the Dogs however is a different case altogether.

Another reason why Jon McGregor's books can be difficult to read is their choice of subject matter. It's often about ordinary people, living hard, grim lives, caught up in their own problems, that the author is able to redeem through some exquisite poetic observations, enlightening the subject through a few fleeting moments of remarkable insight into the connections between people and their pasts. The subject matter of Even the Dogs is perhaps even more grim than previous books, dealing with the lives of down-and-outs, sleeping rough and doing drugs to temporarily lift them out of their miserable existence, forging connections and friendships that are somewhat different from ones we would be familiar with. And then, in the bleak period between Christmas and New Year, there's a death that has an impact on a small group of them.

McGregor's deeply involving writing does nonetheless manage to find some beauty and poetry in this subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I found that the author was much more focused on ...
I found that the author was much more focused on the style and the actual "speech flow" than on the characters
Published 10 months ago by Tiziana Manzetti
2.0 out of 5 stars Fragments of a Wasted Life
The novel starts promisingly enough, with a middle-aged man, Robert's lonely death in his flat, and the reader starts to piece together the pieces of his life through his friends... Read more
Published 10 months ago by J. Ang
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Read Before Bed Or On A Full Stomachg
Well who am I to disparage the novel that won "the biggest literary prize for a novel in English? Read more
Published 14 months ago by Maryellen Grady
4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative
Creative use of discourse giving a chilling insight into the life of addicts whose life centers around finding the next fix.
Published 16 months ago by YEO, Jayne
1.0 out of 5 stars No cup of tea
This is a rather boring, drug-addled stream of consciousness novel with few redeeming qualities. It appears to be written for stylistic impact by having far to many paragraphs end... Read more
Published 19 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars addiction
This tale of addiction warrants special treatment and receives it. The style grows on you so that complete sentences start to seem aberrational epecially at the end of
Published 19 months ago by VSteele
1.0 out of 5 stars Drug culture
Depressing book. every chapter begins with the corpse in some shape or form. I have enough of this material around me and in theTabloids and this is not my kind of literature. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Deli
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into the writer's style in the beginning
The book is a little hard to get a handle on in the beginning because the narrator keeps changing. But once you get used to it the actual story is fascinating. Read more
Published on February 25, 2013 by reviewer1
5.0 out of 5 stars complete surprise
A bookclub recommendation, I read this because I had to! The first few pages made me feel nauseous and uncomfortable..... Read more
Published on February 18, 2013 by joanna madden
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I found this book very refreshing and original. I did find it difficult at the start to get my head around the narrative and the flow but found that, in the end, if I just... Read more
Published on January 24, 2013 by Sarah
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