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Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
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Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

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One of our Bloggers Books of the Month for March

Recommended by Dove Grey Reader

Books like Even the Dogs fall into a category of their own and I think they might be quite rare. Books where the subject matter is so challenging and so excruciatingly painful to read that you need regular respite, yet somehow you don't want it to end; so much so that I set the book aside with twenty pages to go and looked at it for two days before I finally finished it. I wanted to savour every second of this reading experience because I think it's been a unique and special one.
       The story is told from a unique perspective with gaps and silences, sometimes abrupt endings to sentences when the voice wanders off track and leaves the reader to fill in the words, which I's pure innovation and soon uncertainty melds into comfort with this style. I think I felt that Jon McGregor was trusting me as a reader, which in turn made me trust him as a writer because it was clear that subject matter like this needs a safe pair of hands.
Indeed, this might be a world you would prefer to know nothing of and a sense of place that you'd really rather not experience, because Robert's flat is disgustingly filthy, his life when revealed a mess. His home has been the meeting place for all the local drug addicts, alcoholics and vagrants, all those homeless people governments readily label marginalised and disenfranchised without perhaps really considering the how and why. So prepare yourself if you plan to read Even the Dogs because Jon McGregor takes the reader deep into the world and the mind of the drug user, the underbelly of society is going to be exposed as the story nips back and forth in time and it's inevitably grim.
Slowly Even the Dogs gathers a fierce unstuttering coherence as it moves towards moments of clarity, then the narrative becomes unstoppable, barely punctuated. At one point a most revealing section tracing the poppies from the fields of Afghanistan to the streets of London as heroin.
     I actually think this is a really important book, not only for the content but for the sheer beauty and originality of the writing and I sincerely hope prize judges everywhere are looking at it very carefully indeed.
     Even the Dogs is a book that will inform, will challenge assumptions and perhaps redistribute rationed sympathies, to ignore it is to ignore a painful but fundamental failing and perhaps to understand that a little more clearly is a step nearer to ... well to I don't know what, because I'm not stupid enough to think the solutions are there for the sorting, but someone needed to tell the story of those who live and die in this underworld and tell it as it really is, and Jon McGregor most courageously and brilliantly has.

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