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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking but strangely beautiful
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...
Published on 10 Feb 2010 by Denise4891

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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...
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...
Published on 11 Oct 2010 by bloodsimple


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, 29 Nov 2011
By 
J. Willis (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
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 once had. 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.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely compelling, and not often told, 27 Sep 2011
By 
The Hedgehog "me" (The Hedgerows of England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
Lots of others have talked about the content of this book, so I'd like to talk for a moment about the style - this is a freewheeling narrative from an unknown narrator, that flies into the heads of the characters. This approach feels intimate and ramshackle, let's you into the rythm of unstructured half-lives in all their gory detail.

I thought Danny was the best written character - the chapter he dominates (2? 3?) is urgent, he is frantic, and he is lost. This really helped me to have sympathy and to see the world through these types of eyes. That said, I thought it missed a trick in not getting into the heads of the seemingly more unsympathic characters. I think that we can have sympathy for those who are further from ourselves (Ben?), but we need to see more than just hints as to why to do so. I think Jon McGregor should maybe have been a little braver and had more faith in the empathy of his readers.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic and beautiful treatment of grim subject matter, 1 July 2011
By 
Gołębnik (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
After having been blown away by If Nobody Speaks ... and then being slightly disappointed by So Many Ways ..., I didn't read this book when it first came out, but picked it up in a three-for-two offer later. I had been previously put off by the subject matter, which just seemed a bit too grim, even by my standards.

I did indeed find the book grim, but it provides a real insight into the lives of people living on the fringes of society, and is clearly very thoroughly and sympathetically researched. The bleakness is counterbalanced by the writing just being so delicate, beautiful and poetic. The structure and length are just perfect too.

The ending of sentences prematurely is a bit. One could quite easily do a parody but. Nevertheless this is a beautiful book and I very highly. I'll look forward to the next Jon McGregor with.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, but not very sweet, 1 Dec 2010
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Hardcover)
Even the Dogs is certainly an original novel. Written mainly from the first person plural point-of-view and often with a stream of consciousness flow of words, it has a distinctive style:

"We stand together in the hallway, uncertainly. We can hear the two policemen talking outside, the crackle and mutter of their radios. We can hear footsteps moving around upstairs, and someone laughing."

Even the Dogs has a dark theme, focusing on drug addicts, alcoholics and the homeless. The book begins with the discovery of Robert's dead body and the simple plot describes the events leading up to his death. From a distance we see how he became an alcoholic, opened his home up to drug addicts and eventually lost his life.

This book is packed with graphic descriptions, swear words and misery. I know this will not appeal to a lot of people, but I found it to be a compulsive read. It is quite short (less than 200 pages), but it is an impressive description of a wasted life.

I prefer books with a more complex plot, but as a snapshot of the lives of these people I can't fault it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tough going, 26 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
Reading this on the kindle I only got to about 10%, I couldn't bear to read on. I didn't care about any of the characters and was completely uninterested in what happend next. It may appeal to others but it didn't manage to capture my attention at all.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars over-hyped, 5 Mar 2010
By 
Helen Barnes (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Even the Dogs (Hardcover)
This book is OK. It means well, and is impeccably researched, but it lacks authenticity and real narrative voice. The characters blur into one another and their backstories are formulaic and predictable.
Some of the stylistic tics (what is it, sentences tailing off...) really grated after a while
A disappointment.
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed, 16 Mar 2010
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Hardcover)
I bought this book in hardback, which I hardly ever do, because I'd enjoyed McGregor's earlier books and this had had such excellent reviews. I have to say I have no idea what the reviewers saw in the book. There was no story to speak of, although I wouldn't have minded that necessarily. That was true of his first book but the language and beauty of that one carried me through. The author tried to use poor grammar and vocabulary and speak like I imagine he thinks the 'common people' do. Again, I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with this if done well enough but it was clear to me this writer had no idea what he was doing or how his characters would talk in real life and it just came across as condescending. It was written from a rather strange perspective too, that of a chorus of voices with a vague implication they might be dead. This wasn't a problem as such, but I don't think it added anything to story or its telling and so it just seemed pretentious.

At the very least, I expect good writing from a Jon McGregor book. This did not provide even that. McGregor's stubborn bending of the rules with punctuation, his littering the narrative with unsure 'whats' and expetives but without skill or any kind of authenticity was just poor. This book has been hyped to the max but I have to say it seems to me a clear case of the emperor's new clothes.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's pure Poetry with a very dark heart, 14 May 2012
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This review is from: Even the Dogs (Hardcover)
Read while recovering from prostate surgery. Not the happiest of books but you will find it hard to put down.
It reads like poetry and draws you in to his world!
It should be recommended reading in every school..
Absolutely loved it.
jim ...Roscommon Ireland
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'There, even the dogs are dead', 26 Jun 2012
By 
Laura T (Cambridge, U.K) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
In 'Even the Dogs', his third novel, Jon McGregor illuminates the lives of a group of homeless, itinerant drug addicts in much the same way as he shed light on the lives of 'ordinary' people in 'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things'. What makes this book perhaps more valuable, if not more well-written, than his wonderful debut is the way in which his writing encourages us to form a kinship with this most demonised underclass. This is most obvious in his use of the first-person plural throughout large sections of the narrative - for example, 'And how long must we wait. How long have we waited already. For something to happen'.

McGregor encourages this identification through more than this rather transparent ploy. Firstly, 'we' refers not only to the group of addicts but to the all-pervasive 'we' of an all-seeing consciousness that takes the God perspective on the events following Robert's sudden death. For example, as policemen force the door of his flat, `They don't see us, as we crowd and push around them. Of course they don't. How could they. But we're used to that.' This appeals to the idea of a common imaginative world that we share with the main characters, as well as pulling us closer to the particular we of their group, their experience of being removed from the rest of society, and passing unseen in the streets. Secondly, McGregor helps us empathise with the characters by focusing on the small, precise details of the society that we share. Laura, Robert's daughter, has been told by her keyworker that she will be on her road to recovery when she can get up and make a cup of tea first thing in the morning without thinking about drugs. Near the end of the novel, Laura considers the impossibility and the banality of this ordinary ritual: 'Watching the teabag rise to the surface and turn and fall. Can she give herself the time. Is she halfway there and. Waiting for the tea to brew. Scooping out the bag and dropping it in the bin and stirring in the milk... Sitting at the table with the steam rising out of the mug and catching the light and turning in the air.'

On that note, there are two passages in the novel that I want to discuss in more detail, because they form some of the best writing in the book and because they most completely express McGregor's view of the interconnectedness of space, time and society. The first appears near the very beginning of the novel, when the police are investigating Robert's flat. As they tape off the scene of his death, McGregor takes us through his whole lifetime in this flat as if it were a time-lapse photograph: 'The steam from the bath curls out into the hallway, easing the wallpaper away from the wall. Peppered spores of mould thicken and spread towards the ceiling... Dated felt-tip stripes creep up the wall by the doorframe, tracking their daughter's growth'. But even as the flat ages, McGregor describes Robert and his lover, Yvonne, bathing together in their youth as if it were still happening, and still is, in another time. The other passage of this kind is later, describing the production of heroin from its origins in poppy fields to its arrival in England, as Ant, one of the group, struggles through Bosnia on a journey of his own: 'the boys and their light-footed mules are halfway home, their pockets fat with money and their talk full of what they will do with it, the things they will buy their families and the savings they will put towards a scrap of land on which to grow poppies of their own, while somewhere overhead Ant still lies in the belly of the helicopter as it clatters over the landscape'. Instead of separating the addicts into a world of their own, McGregor reconnects them.

But having brought us so completely into their world, McGregor ends the novel with something akin to the scene in 'Lord of the Flies', where an adult suddenly arrives at the boys' island and sees it differently. The final chapter concerns a transcript of the official inquest into Robert's death, where Laura is called as a witness. The grace and poetry of Laura's narration is suddenly reduced to the inarticulate face she presents to the outside world, and ultimately, we realise that there is no way into, or out of, her head. 'Where will she go now. What will she. Leave town and. Stick to her script and wait for another place in. Will they let her have another.' With supreme irony, The Daily Mail calls this novel 'a short, brilliant and beautiful lesson in empathy'; it's a lesson that not only the readers of that paper could benefit from, but all the readers of this book.
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Even the Dogs
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor (Paperback - 4 Jan 2011)
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