Dog days

9 03 2010

Even the dogs by Jon McGregor

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.

Terrific new book by an outstanding author. Whilst the subjects and subject matter seem unremittingly grim, nevertheless there is hope and tenderness in places. The details of the daily drudge of drug abuse feel startlingly real and recall the darker passages of Trainspotting. McGregor’s sparse style and brutally sharp prose mean that not a word is wasted. Really excellent and highly recommended.

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