Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

"even the dogs" by Jon McGregor (Bloomsbury, 2010)

In chapter 1 the narrative impetus is triggered by the finding of a dead body. In chapter 2 the body's driven away while Danny's in flight. In both chapters there's a "we" that often seems to represent a 3rd-person narrative viewpoint, or the spirits of his friends following him to the morgue, the fire.

  • It gets dark, and light, and dark again, and we wonder whether anyone else will come, p.3
  • They don't see us, as we crowd and push around them. Of course they don't. How could they. But they're used to that. We've been used to that for a long time, even before. Before this., p.4
  • Waiting here now for all our names to be called.
    Mike. Heather. Danny. Ben, Steve. Ant. Here we all are now.
    , p.105

Time is fluid - We look at Robert. We listen to the coroner and we look at the policeman and we stand outside the flat waiting for someone to come and kick down the door. (p.170). Voice is fluid - filling their pockets with shrapnel until they could change it for gear. Having a dig and a nod and then getting up and starting all over again (p.38).

In chapter 2 paragraphs end in mid-sentence, though not on a way that introduces ambiguity. Chapter 3's more discursive, giving some history. Chapter 4 deals with the post-mortem. Chapter 5's in the coroner's court. But it's not as simple as that. Narratives are interleaved.

The title? Einstein's a dog, but also on p.113 a Bosnian policeman says No. You do not go. There is nothing for you there. There, even the dogs are dead.

It's good, but I wanted to like it more. I prefer So many ways to begin though "even the dogs" has interesting stylistic features to complement the description of a different milieu, one that's more like that of if nobody speaks of remarkable things which also has multiple narratives.

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