Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Review: Even the Dogs
This was a very difficult book to read. McGregor is raw, graphic, and unrelenting in his portrayal of the horrors of drug addiction. The story follows a group of heroin addicts in an unnamed English town. In the days following Christmas each of them dies from drug-related causes, and the book follows in particular the authorities' investigation of the death of one of them, a man named Robert, who lost all of the normalcy in his life, including his wife and daughter, as he fell into the arms of addiction. The story is narrated by the various characters, some during their lives, and others in death. They follow the investigation of Robert's death in all of its horrors. As the book unfolds we learn how Robert and his friends became drug addicts, and how each met their end. This book is nothing, if not hard-hitting. McGregor writes in the voice of drug addicts in a stream-of-consciousness style. The prose is sometimes difficult to get through: there's plenty of slang and jargon. Even more so, the book itself is hard to get through because it is so graphic and so tragic. Certainly McGregor captures the incessant search for drugs that defines the addict's life. Indeed, the book is itself is unrelenting in illustrating this, as the characters' lives have become entirely defined by the search for the next hit. For all that is remarkable about this book, I was left with little at the end aside from a sense of depression. Many of the finest works of literature are written about extreme human misery, but they leave the reader with larger lessons, things to consider, and that was missing here. At the end there was little left but sadness.
Jon McGregor, Even the Dogs (Bloomsbury, 2010) ISBN: 1596913487