Even the Dogs

Even the Dogs opens with the image of a man’s body being carried out of a broken-down house in the quiet days between Christmas and the New Year- but who’s the semi-homeless man, Robert, and who’s telling his story? And what are the other stories that keep edging their way into the fragments of Robert’s life?

At first, the story is told by a nebulous ‘we’ that almost conjures up a world of spirits as it implicates the reader in Robert‘s life and death, but as distinct and human voices start to emerge from the collective, perspectives change dramatically. One moment we’re zeroing in on the personal details (the homeless squaddie who always lays out his socks to dry before passing out, the ex-groupie trying to look more with-it than her friends, Robert‘s daughter‘s struggles to get clean) and the next, the focus is blown wide open and the reader elevated to an omniscient level, looking down on battle in Afghanistan or watching a flood of high-grade heroin from the poppy fields into an unprepared English town.

This is a fearless and compassionate attempt at communicating the protocols and mannerisms of marginalised people who rarely get to speak. As you emerge from this hidden world, it’s hard not to feel that you have met these people and lived according to their rules, like one of those dreams that gives you what feels like an insight into another life, and one that stays.

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Jon McGregor
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