In the grey days between Christmas and New Year, the body of a man is recovered from the flat where he has lain dead for days. As the police and pathologists work to discover his identity and cause of death, the lives of his friends, the lost souls who surrounded him in life, continue to unravel.
Jon McGregor’s writing is distressingly potent, his fractured and chaotic prose emphasising the mixture of desperation and frustration which simultaneously drives and destroys his characters, eating away at them from the core of their being. Deeply personal scenes are juxtaposed with the clinically impersonal to underline the plight of the homeless, the hopeless, the dispossessed and the abused- the forgotten thousands in our society represented by the microcosm of the cast- without a trace of saccharine.
Even The Dogs is a masterpiece of understated writing and is something everyone should read, but in the case of this book I do not suggest that it is distressing lightly. There are moments in this book which will make the reader physically uncomfortable, moments which are truly horrific. The book is not an apologia; the characters do not seek sympathy but to witness, their stories narrated by the curiously chilling Greek chorus of their peers without excuse or embellishment. I cannot say what effect this will have on you, but it’s effect on me was profound.
Even The Dogs is a modern tragedy, a skilfully written read which tells a story with unflinchingly brutal honesty. This is not a happy book, but an important story narrated with gut wrenching power.
I can imagine how it is. I am a psych transcriptionist, and it never ceases to amaze me what horrible things people can do to each other, or how people who have suffered tremendous losses or abuse can come out victorious in the end. I have listened to true stories that you just can’t make up.