cover image Even the Dogs

Even the Dogs

Jon McGregor, . . Bloomsbury, $14 (195pp) ISBN 978-1-59691-348-6

This mercifully short third novel from McGregor (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things ) is told from the various perspectives of a loosely connected band of down-and-outers linked by Robert, a hopeless alcoholic whose wife has taken their daughter and left him alone in his flat, which has since become a gathering place for the members of McGregor's cast. Robert's death sets in motion the novel's events—it would be misleading to call it a plot—starting with the police taking away his body. For the most part, we're with Danny, whose past gradually comes to light via an expletive-laced narration that verges on incoherence: his foster home upbringing; his relationship with Robert's daughter, Laura, whom Danny is trying to contact; and of course, his heroin addiction, which provides much of the novel's subject matter. In the process, we learn about the group that frequented Robert's flat, a motley crew who provide plenty of sordid stories. But the central mystery—how did Robert die?—goes nowhere, and the spliced-in set pieces that describe the stages Robert's body undergoes on its way to eventual cremation don't do any favors for this misfire. (Feb.)