in which i am disappointed

I had such high hopes for Jon McGregor’s ‘Even The Dogs.’ His debut novel, ‘if nobody speaks of remarkable things’ is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read and his second offering ‘So Many Ways To Begin’ is at times painfully touching. I was so excited by McGregor’s much hyped third novel. I waited impatiently for it too arrive in paperback, watched the TV Book Club’s review of it (a rave by the way) and settled myself down after a long weekend in London, ready to fall in love.

I didn’t.

I was, and am disappointed. Maybe its because I built it up so much in my head but I’m afraid that I really didn’t rate it that much, and that makes me sad. ‘if nobody speak of remarkable things’ this novel is not. I found it hard to read and whilst it’s obviously extremely well researched; whilst the subject matter is hard-hitting and McGregor doesn’t even consider wrapping you in cotton wool before he hits you about the head; whilst there are parts of it that are beautiful and other parts that grip you, I found at times that this was almost a chore to read. Instead of losing myself in it and finding an entire afternoon has passed me by, that I’ve been snuggled in the Camper whilst everyone else drinks cider and laughs outside as was the case with INSORT, I found I was looking at my watch, telling myself I’d read til 10.30 and then go to sleep only to read til 10.15 and then play on the iPad. Oh deary me. I think maybe part of the problem was that the book was just so depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to read books about happy little baa lambs gambolling around a field of daffodils and living happy ever after but I do like a balance and this book was just unrelentingly grim. It didn’t let up even for a second; there was no light relief. You’re immersed the world of addiction and homelessness and loss and it leaves you feeling utterly hopeless. There is no denying that it packs a punch, a very hard punch.

It’s not that it’s a bad book – McGregor is without a doubt one of the brightest modern talents, and this is as apparent here as it is in his previous work, it’s just that this is not an easy book to read. It’s unconventional narrative and it’s bleak subject matter mean you can never relax into the story and I really wanted to relax! I think perhaps I read it at the wrong time, perhaps if I read this again in 6 months time I’ll have a whole new set of opinions. Right now though I just want to go and re-read if nobody speaks…and remind myself just why I love Jon McGregor as much as I do. 6/10.