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Even the Dogs [Hardcover]

Jon McGregor
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2010
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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition edition (1 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747599440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599449
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. Even the Dogs is his third novel.

(Photo credit: Neil Bennet)

Product Description


`Absolutely OUTSTANDING ... the section where he talks about the soldier being blown up and the heroin being processed is one of the best I have ever read ... an incredible book, I just adored it' --Colum McCann

`A poignant howl from the underbelly of British society ... In language that is rich with intonation and held together by a deep internal rhythm, McGregor guides his reader through the "needles, knives and cigarettes, cutting and burning and piercing" ... McGregor is a breathtakingly good writer. Even the Dogs leaves the reader with a sense of solidarity, and many moments of tenderness. McGregor's register of battered lives reads like a eulogy to the human heart' --The Times

`McGregor brings the underclass we instinctively turn away from into razor-sharp and sympathetic focus. A stone cold brilliant achievement' --John Harvey

`A rare combination of profound empathy and wonderful writing' --Mark Haddon

`It is a remarkable novel, the disjointed, stuttering, fractured, staccato interwoven monologues a truly brilliant weaving of plot and character, the tone exquisitely rendered, and the street people, their subterranean tribal solidarity, their feelings for each other, both brave and brutal, are captured beautifully. As one who has lived on the street, I can verify its honest take on the life there, the rhythms of the prose emblematic of the narrators. I haven't seen a book recently that compares to the risks [McGregor has] taken here, something most contemporary novelists have neither the courage nor the talent to take. I read it twice ... I don't do that very often, I can tell you'
--Patrick Lane, author of Red Dog, Red Dog

'Briton Jon McGregor's stark, lyrical third novel is devastating, on all counts, graphics and exacts; chronicling the present, the now, our reality, and written with all the beauty of a terrible lament ... it is profound and humane. He has entered a world with respect, not irony, and has tried neither to explain, nor justify, but to understand ... It is a work of art as well as a subtle polemic ... McGregor's layering of language is remarkable, as are his tone shifts and linguistic control.' --Irish Times, February 2010

'a courageous and passionate novel...shows McGregor to be one of the few young English writers taking genuine risks with language and form' --Observer, February 2010

`McGregor has the ability to give voice to unexplored aspects of our everyday lives.' --Sunday Times, January 2010

`an ambitious story from a novelist who, even when telling the bleakest of stories, maintains the gift of beautiful prose.' --Books Quarterly, January 2010

`Even The Dogs is a short, brilliant and beautiful lesson in empathy'
--Daily Mail, February 2010

Book Description

From the Booker-nominated author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin

A TV Book Club selection

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking but strangely beautiful 10 Feb 2010
I was very impressed with Jon McGregor's first two novels and this one was no exception.

The story begins with the body of a man (Robert) being discovered in his run-down flat. He has been dead for some time, and due to his shambolic lifestyle the police have difficulty piecing together the last moments of his life. Robert was an alcoholic, and the friends he allowed to doss in his flat were drug addicts, all living on the margins of society. This short but very descriptive book looks at the reasons behind each character's descent into this squalid existence, ranging from loss of their family or a childhood in care, to harrowing experiences serving Queen and Country in the Army.

McGregor uses a similar device to the one he used in If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things - that of the unnamed narrator/observer moving from one scene to the next as the characters' stories unfold. Again I think it worked very well, particularly when combined with his poetic writing style and wonderful ear for dialogue.

Yes it's bleak and uncomfortable to read at times, but it's also a very moving and poignant story and I found I really came to care about the people whose desperate lives were laid bare on the page before me.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A noble idea, but it doesn't work... 11 Oct 2010
A strange combination, this. In essence, it's a formless freewheel that follows the death of an alcoholic in an East Midlands estate. At various junctures, his friends, acquaintances and family fill in some of the gaps of a life surrounded by drugs, squalor and struggle.

For much of the book it would seem to be carefully researched, and as `authentic' as you would wish. The gritty detail is there, and little is spared. The language, too, is essentially the thoughts and words of the individuals written down, including the pauses and unfinished sentences. However, it often seems false or stilted - the addicts appear unduly co-operative, and reluctant to resort to crime or violence for their next fix. My understanding of this kind of addict is that they would happily sell their granny to score, but in the novel this desperation is rarely present. In addition, some of the characters seem to blend together into the same person, and the constant tailing off of sentences passes from realistic, to just plain annoying.

The structure is a further problem - the book is deliberately shapeless, but this robs it of any immediacy. Instead, the reader floats around and occasionally drops in, but out of temporal sequence. It is a stylistic decision, but it detracts from what the author is trying to convey - it is too bitty to allow the reader to build up any lasting emotions. Less would be more, here.

Ultimately, I want to like this book because it attempts something brave, it is often unflinching, and it shines a light that needs to be shone. However, the shapeless and messy style, the lack of distinction between characters, and hints of punch-pulling by the author, count against it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I ordered this book have read about John McGregor, and read some of the reviews on Amazon. This was the first John McGregor book that I read. The style of writing is descriptive and poetic, and at first I was unsure whether I would complete or even enjoy reading the book. Having quickly got used to the style of writing, I read the book quickly and found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The story is tragic, and the way in which John McGregor develops the characters, provides detail and your quickly build a picture of the characters and their lives they live. This book really does make you think, and I found myself looking forward to reading the book.

I have since gone onto read John McGregor's other books. Another reviewer has referred to the author as being a "big bang" within literature, this is something I really agree with. It is not often that you come across an author who writes that is so descriptive, emotive and poetic in style.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another very good novel from a new major writer 23 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As one character, Steve, explains a charity trip, to another character, Ant, an almost throw away remark is made. Steve recalls that during the trip, a so called police man said to him, as he tried to deliver aid to Bosnia, "There is nothing for you there. There, even the dogs are dead." It is out of this sentence that Jon McGregor's third novel, Even the Dogs, gains its title. For me in what follows, in the novel, the title functions as a relative statement if only to briefly remind us that even though we might think we have sunk far down into the mire there is possibly someone or group of people worst off than us. For all its bleakness, as one reads the novel it is soon realised that the title also portrays a sense of hope.

The setting of Even the Dogs is the harsh, bleak world of drugs and alcohol abuse. We are not told in which town or city McGregor's characters function but it could be any large town or city. Christmas has not long expired and Robert is discovered dead in his flat. During the time of his death so called friends who visit the flat, and might have discovered Robert's body, panic and flitter away. The police subsequently arrive on the scene and Robert's body is eventually taken to a mortuary. The body is accompanied by a plural we narrator. McGregor then structures his novel on the basis of 5 long chapters that focuses on how the state deals with such an event and on another level allows the narration to flow, as if recalled from memory, in an impressionistic manner. In short what we get is a delineation of the lives of a group of characters set in a social milieu of substance abuse.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd.
Read this book over a few days, it wasn't bad but I found it difficult to get into. The prose was done in the words of one of the characters and at times I found it difficult to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Miss A
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
Quick transaction conducted without any problems.
Book in very good condition - no visible marks of use on the cover and on the inside.
Decidedly worth recommending.
Published 5 months ago by Katarzyna
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, hard-going
This is a slim novel which nevertheless makes a "full meal" as a reading experience, and takes a lot of time to read - you can't skim, due to the emotional and stylistic density of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by heidelberg
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the easiest read
I almost gave this book 4 stars. It IS a good book, giving an insight into the dysfunctional lives of various drug addicts and alcoholics. Good writing but bleak.
Published 9 months ago by James Twain
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim but gripping
Hmmm not an easy read - either the subject matter or the style but it is a very good book. The central premise is the finding of the long dead body of Robert an alcoholic, who... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jo Brookes
4.0 out of 5 stars Man's inhumanity to man-and dogs.
The title of this novel refers to a war zone in Bosnia where the devastation has been so complete that even the dogs are dead. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Leone
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable!
If one wants to feel uncomfortable, challenged, annoyed or even frustrated this is the book for you.
Not an easy read, but well worth the effort. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Barbara Pemberton
4.0 out of 5 stars Empathetic, relevant and incredibly well written
Jon Mcgregor's even the dogs is a bleak novel detailing the story behind the death of a man in his early 50s. Read more
Published 18 months ago by S. Enston
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb!!
A very moving story of lives on the edge, a subject which has been tackled with great sensitivity and understanding. Read more
Published 18 months ago by S. Butterworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Even the Dogs
This is an excellent and easily-read novel concerning a motley crew of down-and-outs in an English town, the 'invisibles' of society, the principle aim of their shrunken lives... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Callmerick
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