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The author of the best selling and award winning Netherland now gives us his eagerly awaited stunningly different new novel a tale of alienation and heartbreak in Dubai Distraught by a breakup with his long term girlfriend our unnamed hero leaves New York to take an unusual job in a strange desert metropolis In Dubai at the height of its self invention as a We never learn the real name of the narrator in Joseph O’Neill’s new novel but we do learn that his professional name begins with the letter X He won’t reveal his given name under pain of humiliation X thinks of himself with a little help from his former lover as “the dog” as in “it appears I’m in the doghouse” He thinks fairly rationally probably due to his legal training but with long trailing parenthetical asides sometimes reuiring up to five or six parentheses together to finally close the ellipses of his ruminations and bring him back to the point And the point isour man just an ordinary man by the sounds of him has got himself out on a very thin limb andhe really has no friends Or rather he does have friends but only the kind that helpfully change the subject when it looks as though someone might actually say something revealing or personal You know—the kind of friends that might offer you a job but might not be the kind you actually want to work for Which he did Take the job In Dubai That is to say he uit the job he had in the law firm he shared with his nine year not uite wife abandoned his rent controlled one bedroom in Gramercy Park escaping initially to a luxury rental in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel and then he moved to Dubai As X himself writes “a person usually needs a special incentive to be here—or perhaps accurately not to be elsewhere—and surely this is all the true for the American who rather than trying his luck in California or Texas or New York chooses to come to this strange desert metropolis Either way fortune will play its expected role I suppose I say all this from experienceOne way to sum up the stupidity of this phase of my life a phase I’m afraid is ongoing would be to call it the phase of insights” There is something vaguely embarrassing yet deliciously sexy to witness this man’s emotional strip tease He is not a hard edged corporate lawyer the “I can handle anything” type of man but one who is perplexed and bewildered to find himself living a life he doesn’t actually like nor want He is clearly still a little in love with his longtime former lover Jenn and recognizes that he bears some blame for being emotionally blank and linguistically blocked when it came to expressing 1 his lack of interest in moving away from his rent controlled one bedroom to a larger apartment and 2 his lack of interest in starting a family at 36 years old Once X begins to see that in fact he is not enjoying himself at all despite living in an expensive apartment in an expensive city and outwardly living the life of Riley and he lets down his normal reserve enough to start telling us about itwellit is frankly hysterically funny Because yes if one looks at it from a simply voyeuristic point of view he simply has nothing at all despite the aforementioned apartment in the gleaming city by the seaand the desert ”It’s almost nauseating to see the sand wherever the efforts to cover it has not yet succeeded” When he begins to think aloud how liberating it is that he could actually hang himself at any time because he has no kids nor spouse to worry about in terms of timing we can’t help but chuckle Not a good reaction to have but this guy is already eviscerated We’d just witness the burialX’s apartment in Dubai looks out on a city constantly under construction The buildings are tall and spectacular and one construction site catches X’s imagination He calls it Project X After one day sending his “man” Ali out to find out what it will be Ali comes back with the news that the building is a mock up a “scale representation” of another building “Project X isn’t a project at all It’s a dummy runThe action has moved somewhere else” Sadly our minds flit to X himself imagining his now empty 36 years as a mock up for a life of promise and fulfilment and honor Later when he faces legal action himself his shocked outburst “this is my good name we’re talking about” prompts his employer to respond “Your name? What name?”If one ever wondered what exactly it would be like to live in Dubai here you will have one answer X calmly and pointedly gives us Dubai’s “crimes of nature against man” and the “Dubaian counterattack on the natural” as well as his increasingly distressed and alienated view of the expat scene But when he returns to New York on a business trip and expresses horror at the lumpy streets and soot blackened store fronts with some regret we note his former home is home no AlasModern man as we wish we never saw him O’Neill our Scheherazade unravelling his gossamer veils one by one I wish it didn’t endThe Random House Audio production is brilliantly and dolefully read by Erik Davies I found myself wanting to uote large sections of this in my reviewbut there was too much Gorgeous language

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The Dog by Joseph O'Neill

Comic and philosophically profound exploration of what has become of humankind’s moral progress The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark elouence empathy and storytelling mastery It is a brilliantly original achingly funny fable for our globalized timesA NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOKLONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014 PWs Best of the Year 201 Never written a review this early into a book but the writing is absolutely eye watering I've never read a literary writer whose prose looks so much like programming language and by that I mean lots and lots of nesting statements This is not a good thing When he's not nesting statements he's ualifying things that don't need to be ualified Or bludgeoning you with awkward similes Is there some kind of symbolism to this? Some kind of awful writing device? I don't know I haven't read that far He's also a fan of the run on sentence where sometimes an entire page is just one long sentence Here is the opening sentence I shit you not PERHAPS BECAUSE OF MY GROWING SENSE of the inefficiency of life lived on land and in air of my growing sense that the accumulation of experience amounts when all is said and done and pondered simply to extra weight so that one ends up dragging oneself around as if imprisoned in one of those Winnie the Pooh suits of explorers of the deep I took up diving The first thing that popped into my head was Is he a native English speaker? because that sentence is so disjointed as to be absurd And that metaphor Is it a metaphor? Or is there some kind of fetishistic diving experience that marries scuba and Disney in some unholy fashion? I'm sorry but I'm poor like an inner city kid who's barely seen a pool You'll have to explain your fancy hobby jargon to me Then there's the French French this and French that with no translation in sight It's very alienating First the scuba now the foreign languages Plus he's a lawyer uitting his job over a breakup with his girlfriend to work for his billionaire friend's daddy who apparently runs Zombocom At Zombocom anything is possible The only limitation is you At Zombocom the unobtainable is unknown Welcome How am I to relate to this pretentious wankery?I get that this is supposed to be satire but satire is generally you know enjoyable Pithy even I don't connect to this guy on any level and his ridiculous problems fail to entertain Not even the insights he's supposed to be relating about the lives of the rich and douchey move me and I'm generally a big fan of mocking the excesses of the one percent Maybe it's because I know very little about Dubai and mostly don't care I'm not made to care I'd like to think I'm open to hearing about it but not from a narrator who conveys thoughts in a way that's all glass and no candy appleMost of the time I feel like I'm just not getting the joke Perhaps I'm not hip enough to understand his post modern writing and how it brilliantly harkens to a bunch of dead author's works If I were well read I could high five myself for every obscure literary reference and maybe feel gratified by the masturbatory experience well enough to like this book As it is I just don't get it diseno de moda conceptos basicos y aplicaciones practicas de ilustracion de moda of what has become Los asquerosos of humankind’s moral progress The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark elouence empathy and storytelling mastery It is a brilliantly Speakout Advanced Plus 2nd Edition Students Book/DVD-ROM/Workbook/StudyBooster Spain Pack original achingly funny fable for Trilogía El Club our globalized timesA NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOKLONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014 PWs Best GULLIVERS TRAVELS 1ºESO BAR of the Year 201 Never written a review this early into a book but the writing is absolutely eye watering I've never read a literary writer whose prose looks so much like programming language and by that I mean lots and lots Goddess Rising (Complicated Creatures of nesting statements This is not a good thing When he's not nesting statements he's ualifying things that don't need to be ualified Or bludgeoning you with awkward similes Is there some kind Complicated Creatures 1.5, A Companion Novella of symbolism to this? Some kind NEJ of awful writing device? I don't know I haven't read that far He's also a fan Triplets Find a Mom of the run Silent Runners on sentence where sometimes an entire page is just Foc latent one long sentence Here is the Mrs Queen Takes the Train opening sentence I shit you not PERHAPS BECAUSE OF MY GROWING SENSE Planisferio celeste. Dos caras. Reversible. Castellano. Editorial Mapiberia & Global Mapping. of the inefficiency Retorno a Los Origenes of life lived Em Teu Ventre on land and in air Billionaires Sissy Cuckold of my growing sense that the accumulation Waiting for the Monsoon of experience amounts when all is said and done and pondered simply to extra weight so that Ezekiel nora ezean (Taupadak) one ends up dragging WordPress 5. La guía completa (Social Media) oneself around as if imprisoned in Intensidad Max : Un plan de ejercicios y nutrición para sacar lo mejor de ti misma en sólo 90 días (Psicología y salud) one Sugaar (Xaguxar) of those Winnie the Pooh suits Quentin Tarantino of explorers The Peoples State of the deep I took up diving The first thing that popped into my head was Is he a native English speaker? because that sentence is so disjointed as to be absurd And that metaphor Is it a metaphor? Or is there some kind Punks Wing (Punk, of fetishistic diving experience that marries scuba and Disney in some unholy fashion? I'm sorry but I'm poor like an inner city kid who's barely seen a pool You'll have to explain your fancy hobby jargon to me Then there's the French French this and French that with no translation in sight It's very alienating First the scuba now the foreign languages Plus he's a lawyer uitting his job Go Your Own Way (Go Your Own Way, over a breakup with his girlfriend to work for his billionaire friend's daddy who apparently runs Zombocom At Zombocom anything is possible The The Perry Mason Book only limitation is you At Zombocom the unobtainable is unknown Welcome How am I to relate to this pretentious wankery?I get that this is supposed to be satire but satire is generally you know enjoyable Pithy even I don't connect to this guy Un Mundo De Sonidos A Cuaderno - 9788480253932 on any level and his ridiculous problems fail to entertain Not even the insights he's supposed to be relating about the lives Deseo de ser piel roja of the rich and douchey move me and I'm generally a big fan The Man of Fashion of mocking the excesses Russia in Flames of the Under the Water one percent Maybe it's because I know very little about Dubai and mostly don't care I'm not made to care I'd like to think I'm Cat Breaking Free open to hearing about it but not from a narrator who conveys thoughts in a way that's all glass and no candy appleMost El Andorrà: D'car mo un pastor d'Almeria es converteix en l'home més ric d'Andorra of the time I feel like I'm just not getting the joke Perhaps I'm not hip enough to understand his post modern writing and how it brilliantly harkens to a bunch ایران در گذر روزگاران of dead author's works If I were well read I could high five myself for every Ezekiel (Taupadak) obscure literary reference and maybe feel gratified by the masturbatory experience well enough to like this book As it is I just don't get it

Joseph O'Neill Ø 0 Free read

Futuristic Shangri la he struggles with his new position as the “family officer” of the capricious and very rich Batros family And he struggles even helplessly with the “doghouse” a seemingly inescapable condition of culpability in which he feels himself constantly trapped even if he’s just going to the bathroom or reading e mail or scuba diving A Joseph O’Neill’s “The Dog” arrives trailing clouds of glory from his previous novel “Netherland” which was longlisted for the Booker Prize won the 2009 PENFaulkner Award and managed to make cricket cool in America Set in the aftermath of Sept 11 “Netherland” told the story of a depressed financial analyst estranged from his wife but that plot was garnish than meal What the book really offered was O’Neill’s reflections on New York relationships ambition and especially cricket — all spun in sentences so clever that the destination hardly matteredSachin Tendulkar one of the greatest players ever once said “Life without cricket is unthinkable” and now O’Neill seems determined to prove that fiction without cricket is unbearable This time we’re in Dubai with a depressed lawyer estranged from his longtime girlfriend and once again the storyline has been beaten to airy thinness Even the narrator’s name has been radically attenuated reduced to the single letter X which as a symbol of evaporated identity is about as subtle as getting whacked in the face with a cricket batWe’re dealing with a man who introduces himself by claiming that “the accumulation of experience amounts when all is said and pondered simply to extra weight” Given that disparaging opinion of what non depressed people might call “plot” it’s not surprising to find a novel that feels both weighty and inconseuential an addition to that genre of stories about adrift disaffected middle aged men X is a comically absurdly and finally maddeningly digressive narrator a human Internet of hyperlinks that lead everywhere but have no real purposeYou don’t mind at first because nobody choreographs a pas de deux of wit and despair uite as elegantly as O’Neill In the wake of a soul crushing breakup with his girlfriend in New York X accepts a job in Dubai from a longtime acuaintance who thinks mistakenly that X is a friend of Donald Trump As the new trustee of the Batros Group X is charged with supervising a 500 million fortune that supports a profligate Middle Eastern clan The Batros Group is obviously a shell corporation composed of legal and illegal enterprises and X’s job involves nothing than sitting in an office for a few hours a day rubber stamping documents he doesn’t understandDespite its exotic gold plated setting “The Dog” belongs in that putty colored file cabinet of office satires that stretch from “Bartleby the Scrivener” to “Then We Came to the End” O’Neill’s innovation is to assure us that meaningless work is just as mind numbing at 500 an hour as it is at minimum wage X spends much of his day composing “mental mail” fantastical e mail messages that he’s too cowardly to send — or even write He’s an ineffective chronically ruminative man who thinks of himself as a “supererogatory weirdo” “Mine is the inevitable fate of the overwhelmed fiduciary inextinguishable boredom and fear of liability”The location of his new job only aggravates X’s deepening sense of disassociation Awash in cash Dubai is a “land of signs to nowhere” a place divorced from the rules of ordinary life even from the laws of physics In that indefatigable voice that seems to keep speaking as a last ditch act of survival our narrator describes “an abracadabrapolis in which buildings flopped against each other and skyscrapers looked wobbly or were rumpled or might be twice as tall and slender as the Empire State Building a city whose coastline featured bizarre man made peninsulas as well as those already famous artificial islets known as The World so named because they were grouped to suggest to a bird’s eye a physical map of the world; a city where huge stilts rose out of the earth and disappeared like Jack’s beanstalk three hundred meters up into a synthetic cloud”For X though “this wonderland was the same as any other human place it boiled down to a bunch of rooms” He goes on to tell us “I had a theory or two about rooms” In fact X has a theory or two or 200 about everything“One way to sum up the stupidity of this phase of my life” he says “would be to call it the phase of insights” And insights are what we get — a breathless rush of insights about architecture labor law toenails teenagers gossip pornography immigrants and scuba diving Insights it seems are all that are left of this bright but ruined man While fantasizing about playing the hero in strangers’ lives he takes great interest in a bigamist who abandoned his American wife in Dubai He frets about the reputation of his apartment building vis à vis a neighboring apartment building As a bulwark against suicidal depression he gloms onto brand names and marketing lingo with religious fervencyWith this ever mutating monologue X is engaged in a futile act of talking himself into existence proving his worth by his carefully documented sensitivity and accountability The sentences — many stretching to hundreds of words — form a glittery parody of legal prose crowded with exceptions and explanations and parenthetical asides sometimes nested six deep A pedicure inspires his disuisition on his clients’ responsibilities to freelance laborers He donates large sums of money to charity He hounds the maids to accept tips He’s so self conscious about behaving ethically that he assures us that the Internet porn he’s watching involves only respectful husband and wife actorsThere’s no denying that every page of “The Dog” is a little masterpiece of comedy erudition and linguistic acrobatics The uestion is How much of this can you endure? How long does it take to feel the full import of X’s harrowing loneliness? Arthur Phillips made this work with his brilliant debut novel “Prague” But “Dog” is closer to the kill me now tedium of Jonathan Lethem’s “Chronic City”When I started reading a chapter of “The Dog” to my wife she thought I was being far too critical but as the pages wore on she felt an urgent need to check on the laundry I envied her This review appeared in The Washington Post


10 thoughts on “The Dog by Joseph O'Neill

  1. says:

    We never learn the real name of the narrator in Joseph O’Neill’s new novel but we do learn that his professional name begins with the letter X He won’t reveal his given name under pain of humiliation X thinks of himself with a little help from his former lover as “the dog” as in “it appears I’m in the doghouse” He thinks fairly rationally probably due to his legal training but with long trailing parenthetical asides sometimes reuiring up to five or six parentheses together to finally close the ellipses of his ruminations and bring him back to the point And the point isour man just an ordinary man by the sounds of him has got himself out on a very thin limb andhe really has no friends Or rather he does have friends but only the kind that helpfully change the subject when it looks as though someone might actually say something revealing or personal You know—the kind of friends that might offer you a job but might not be the kind you actually want to work for Which he did Take the job In Dubai That is to say he uit the job he had in the law firm he shared with his nine year not uite wife abandoned his rent controlled one bedroom in Gramercy Park escaping initially to a luxury rental in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel and then he moved to Dubai As X himself writes “a person usually needs a special incentive to be here—or perhaps accurately not to be elsewhere—and surely this is all the true for the American who rather than trying his luck in California or Texas or New York chooses to come to this strange desert metropolis Either way fortune will play its expected role I suppose I say all this from experienceOne way to sum up the stupidity of this phase of my life a phase I’m afraid is ongoing would be to call it the phase of insights” There is something vaguely embarrassing yet deliciously sexy to witness this man’s emotional strip tease He is not a hard edged corporate lawyer the “I can handle anything” type of man but one who is perplexed and bewildered to find himself living a life he doesn’t actually like nor want He is clearly still a little in love with his longtime former lover Jenn and recognizes that he bears some blame for being emotionally blank and linguistically blocked when it came to expressing 1 his lack of interest in moving away from his rent controlled one bedroom to a larger apartment and 2 his lack of interest in starting a family at 36 years old Once X begins to see that in fact he is not enjoying himself at all despite living in an expensive apartment in an expensive city and outwardly living the life of Riley and he lets down his normal reserve enough to start telling us about itwellit is frankly hysterically funny Because yes if one looks at it from a simply voyeuristic point of view he simply has nothing at all despite the aforementioned apartment in the gleaming city by the seaand the desert ”It’s almost nauseating to see the sand wherever the efforts to cover it has not yet succeeded” When he begins to think aloud how liberating it is that he could actually hang himself at any time because he has no kids nor spouse to worry about in terms of timing we can’t help but chuckle Not a good reaction to have but this guy is already eviscerated We’d just witness the burialX’s apartment in Dubai looks out on a city constantly under construction The buildings are tall and spectacular and one construction site catches X’s imagination He calls it Project X After one day sending his “man” Ali out to find out what it will be Ali comes back with the news that the building is a mock up a “scale representation” of another building “Project X isn’t a project at all It’s a dummy runThe action has moved somewhere else” Sadly our minds flit to X himself imagining his now empty 36 years as a mock up for a life of promise and fulfilment and honor Later when he faces legal action himself his shocked outburst “this is my good name we’re talking about” prompts his employer to respond “Your name? What name?”If one ever wondered what exactly it would be like to live in Dubai here you will have one answer X calmly and pointedly gives us Dubai’s “crimes of nature against man” and the “Dubaian counterattack on the natural” as well as his increasingly distressed and alienated view of the expat scene But when he returns to New York on a business trip and expresses horror at the lumpy streets and soot blackened store fronts with some regret we note his former home is home no AlasModern man as we wish we never saw him O’Neill our Scheherazade unravelling his gossamer veils one by one I wish it didn’t endThe Random House Audio production is brilliantly and dolefully read by Erik Davies I found myself wanting to uote large sections of this in my reviewbut there was too much Gorgeous language


  2. says:

    First I have to admire O'Neil for taking uite a risk after his successful and engaging novel NETHERLAND which not only put him on the map but established him as a fine author in the theme of dislocation and alienation Here too his themes are largely about the displacement of foreigners In this case the protagonist and unnamed narrator a New York attorney was born in Switzerland and raised in the US A bit of cheeky irony we don't know his name but we do know his alter ego or alias He was hired by an obscenely wealthy Lebanese family to move to Dubai and act in the role of fiduciary and legal overseer Family Officer of their funds They also ask him to keep a close eye on and mentor one of their 17 year old family members an indolent boy that lacks ambitionO'Neil's urbane postmodern writing is both sardonic and sad yet there was no escape from the increasingly foul funk of it At its best he echoes a combination of Kafka Thomas Pynchon and even George Orwell in his auguring humor His depiction of the class system and byzantine legalese of Dubai is nothing short of brilliant for the non national the emirate is a vast booby trap of medieval judicial perils and Johnny Foreigner must especially take great care in interactions with local citizensbecause de facto there is one law for Abdul Emerati and another for Johnny Foreigner However his turgidity combined with the relentless repugnance of the narrative was wearying he is a polished writer but of tasteless contentO'Neil uses shock value at the mid point of the novel perhaps to resuscitate it from flat lining The narrator enjoys his afternoon Internet porn following his noontime bathroom constitutional However the lurid vileness that he added to the porn disengaged me from the character On the other hand I have to hand it to O'Neil he bravely pushes the envelope of human depravity Butwhy? It's deeply superficial; he is teasing the reader to be hip enough to accept his brand of purposeless vulgarityThe narrator's break up with his girlfriend a lawyer he met in the Manhattan law firm he worked out is detailed in the problems that drove them apart O'Neil did a stellar job of making the reader uncomfortable observing very private things behind closed doors He adds on a little mystery with the case of the missing scuba diver Ted Wilson and then purposely turns us off with the narrator's interactions with Wilson's wife And then there is a place he refers to as Project X a building project that he desires to know about As far as the attempted levity related to his periodic pedicures it was thoroughly lost on meIf you are looking for a plot you won't find it here It is largely a Kafkaesue study of the labyrinth legal and social system of the UAE as well as a soul stripping story of our hero's loneliness Too it illuminates the crushing of the human psyche and dignity And not least of all the depths of debasement and pathetic vacuity


  3. says:

    45 A very interesting book And not at all what I expected from Joseph O'Neill whom I'd taken for American fiction's Mr Boring on the strength of Zadie Smith's famous essay Two Paths for the Novel even if the piece's essential idea did seem over simplified Some paragraphs in The Dog must count as Lyrical Realism but almost none of this book is 'blah litfic' the gut response via which I usually label Lyrical Realism O'Neill isn't uite what he seems either says an article the longlist contains so many white men white people generally He's actually half Turkish and if his name were too he would probably be classified differently by commentators Like the narrator if he removes his unused unusual first name he is completely camouflaged by his name's commonness The Dog is full of a sense of not entirely belonging anywhere whilst on the surface all strives to be correct sometimes trying to adhere to the values of opposing forces simultaneously A subtle and powerful evocation of the immigrant or half immigrant condition than a lot of first generation family sagas It's predominantly written in a style associated with office work rather than any floweriness of literature; although it doesn't use actual legal jargon it's from a mind narrator and author for which legalistic writing is routine It's a meticulous examination of internal thought processes contemporary middle class ethics and the inevitability of compromise and falling short An up to the minute existentialism A critiue of capitalism and the modern condition that because it's realistic and hardly ever violent is way sharper than American Psycho And a realistic updating of the disgruntled not uite middle aged single male narrator for a point in time when men of my background and generation are less likely to say with marginal emarrassment that they sometimes identified with Portnoy than to write about their project of reading female writers and honestly seem to mean it although I still see a suppression of intrinsic human interest and enjoyment in favour of brow beatenness sheepish adherence to the viral internet and a state of being both patronising towards and patronised by women than previously Reviews of O'Neill's Netherland point out the significant drawback for many readers of the main character being a highly paid 1% er The narrator of The Dog isn't uite there but he is working for them and would be a higher rate taxpayer in the UK Following a horrendous breakup with a New York colleague he takes a job in Dubai as a family officer a kind of financial manager for a family of shady shipping multimillionaires one of whom was once his university flatmate He lives in a modern luxury complex which is a typical part of an entire city which has the temporary air cushioned vacuum feeling of chain hotels only with an absurd level of amenities The absurdly narcissistic ads for the building and others like it followed by the hubris of the recession frozen construction sites and in the finished complexes workaday residents than once envisaged is the same trajectory as that of many recent warehouse and factory conversions in British citiesHis the kind of post and lifestyle which makes him easy to bracket with wanker bankers though his thoughts are burdened with guilt and thoughts of ethics than most of his peers a set of ethics which online is freuently termed 'social justice' by hundreds of thousands of people who've never been near volunteering in a soup kitchen or any other social justice work as the term used to mean before the internet mangled it into the war cry of Twitter mobsHis guilt has only has a marginal effect on his actions at work But whilst there is a difference of degrees in terms of the actual impact of a person's job the same trains of thought the same ethical cheese paring and boundary drawing and having to follow policies you don't think are right are universal They also occur in charity and public sector jobs which sound like the most socially useful things you could earn money from Or not earn it they apply in volunteering too You can never help everybody and you can't even help that one person with everything You always have to set the boundaries somewhere although to do so inevitably feels ruthless to both sides Some people try not to a former colleague told me how when she was younger she'd got into debt because she was giving so much money to charity and then ended paying in interest than originally to the charities I sometimes wondered to what extent it was weak to want the day to day gratification of helping people directly and a job title that sounded nice and if it might even be useful if only I'd been sufficiently healthy to have a high powered City job and donate most of one's salary enough to fund several of my own charity post I've been through variants of many of the thought processes in The Dog never seen them so closely rendered on paper and I admire the way O'Neill has pinned these ideas so exactly whilst making them sound 'real' with the occasional word error and formidable bracket overuse He applies similar precision to his description of how to do Sudoku a procedure it was rather amazing to see verbalisedThe narrator is not a fan of the growing social media of 2007 11 his years of employment but he does spend a lot of time on the internet forums Google Wikipedia and porn until he's so shocked by unexpectedly violent porn that he stops dead Much of life is him on his own or him and the computer His social isolation in Dubai probably makes pronounced his use of professional status and connection as a primary way of describing himself and others It's uite a cold cerebral narrative; whilst there's humour and methodical consideration of others' experiences there isn't substantial fun or warmth here which is why I've tentatively rounded my 45 down not up although I only tended to feel something missing when I surfaced from the book because whilst reading I was buzzing with its resonance both personal and general 'Dog' has multiple meanings a dogsbody he is one and he in turn employs one of his own wanting a dog for a pet but not being allowed being dogged by guilt no matter where he goes the state of guilt and shame being in the doghouse in his former relationship and generally all subtly augmented by the unclean status of dogs in Arab culture A sense that whatever you do you can't help being to some extent bad I felt the central uestion of the book to be At what level does one stop trying andor self flagellating and become resigned to things? I became aware that I may be forgiving to this narrator's professional situation than some readers would be because being so tired I empathise very readily with inertia and a sense of stuckness even when the subject might actually have the wherewithal to do something about it But anyway these days at the other end of the economic scale from this chap there are a lot of people doing jobs with a negative social impact eg aggressive telesales who really have no choice So although his earnings are many times theirs similar yet really urgent and difficult dilemmas still occurThere is a huge amount to say about The Dog I have a hunch that critics will be calling this an Important Book Another thing I've not gone into yet is the religious theme which plays out in the denoument obvious when added to the narrator's probable Christian name Although it's only 240 pages this book has enough substance to launch a thousand essays However I am not sure that average undergrads would get so much out of it it speaks very much to and of the sense of loserishness that hits in the second half of one's thirties if adrift without an intact long term partnership and or offspring or at the very least an actual divorce And its intricate prison of work and consumerist dilemmas is most vivid with a good few years of different jobs and experiences under the belt and having heard and thought these things over and over to the paradoxical point of boredom yet knowing they still matter


  4. says:

    Joseph O’Neill’s “The Dog” arrives trailing clouds of glory from his previous novel “Netherland” which was longlisted for the Booker Prize won the 2009 PENFaulkner Award and managed to make cricket cool in America Set in the aftermath of Sept 11 “Netherland” told the story of a depressed financial analyst estranged from his wife but that plot was garnish than meal What the book really offered was O’Neill’s reflections on New York relationships ambition and especially cricket — all spun in sentences so clever that the destination hardly matteredSachin Tendulkar one of the greatest players ever once said “Life without cricket is unthinkable” and now O’Neill seems determined to prove that fiction without cricket is unbearable This time we’re in Dubai with a depressed lawyer estranged from his longtime girlfriend and once again the storyline has been beaten to airy thinness Even the narrator’s name has been radically attenuated reduced to the single letter X which as a symbol of evaporated identity is about as subtle as getting whacked in the face with a cricket batWe’re dealing with a man who introduces himself by claiming that “the accumulation of experience amounts when all is said and pondered simply to extra weight” Given that disparaging opinion of what non depressed people might call “plot” it’s not surprising to find a novel that feels both weighty and inconseuential an addition to that genre of stories about adrift disaffected middle aged men X is a comically absurdly and finally maddeningly digressive narrator a human Internet of hyperlinks that lead everywhere but have no real purposeYou don’t mind at first because nobody choreographs a pas de deux of wit and despair uite as elegantly as O’Neill In the wake of a soul crushing breakup with his girlfriend in New York X accepts a job in Dubai from a longtime acuaintance who thinks mistakenly that X is a friend of Donald Trump As the new trustee of the Batros Group X is charged with supervising a 500 million fortune that supports a profligate Middle Eastern clan The Batros Group is obviously a shell corporation composed of legal and illegal enterprises and X’s job involves nothing than sitting in an office for a few hours a day rubber stamping documents he doesn’t understandDespite its exotic gold plated setting “The Dog” belongs in that putty colored file cabinet of office satires that stretch from “Bartleby the Scrivener” to “Then We Came to the End” O’Neill’s innovation is to assure us that meaningless work is just as mind numbing at 500 an hour as it is at minimum wage X spends much of his day composing “mental mail” fantastical e mail messages that he’s too cowardly to send — or even write He’s an ineffective chronically ruminative man who thinks of himself as a “supererogatory weirdo” “Mine is the inevitable fate of the overwhelmed fiduciary inextinguishable boredom and fear of liability”The location of his new job only aggravates X’s deepening sense of disassociation Awash in cash Dubai is a “land of signs to nowhere” a place divorced from the rules of ordinary life even from the laws of physics In that indefatigable voice that seems to keep speaking as a last ditch act of survival our narrator describes “an abracadabrapolis in which buildings flopped against each other and skyscrapers looked wobbly or were rumpled or might be twice as tall and slender as the Empire State Building a city whose coastline featured bizarre man made peninsulas as well as those already famous artificial islets known as The World so named because they were grouped to suggest to a bird’s eye a physical map of the world; a city where huge stilts rose out of the earth and disappeared like Jack’s beanstalk three hundred meters up into a synthetic cloud”For X though “this wonderland was the same as any other human place it boiled down to a bunch of rooms” He goes on to tell us “I had a theory or two about rooms” In fact X has a theory or two or 200 about everything“One way to sum up the stupidity of this phase of my life” he says “would be to call it the phase of insights” And insights are what we get — a breathless rush of insights about architecture labor law toenails teenagers gossip pornography immigrants and scuba diving Insights it seems are all that are left of this bright but ruined man While fantasizing about playing the hero in strangers’ lives he takes great interest in a bigamist who abandoned his American wife in Dubai He frets about the reputation of his apartment building vis à vis a neighboring apartment building As a bulwark against suicidal depression he gloms onto brand names and marketing lingo with religious fervencyWith this ever mutating monologue X is engaged in a futile act of talking himself into existence proving his worth by his carefully documented sensitivity and accountability The sentences — many stretching to hundreds of words — form a glittery parody of legal prose crowded with exceptions and explanations and parenthetical asides sometimes nested six deep A pedicure inspires his disuisition on his clients’ responsibilities to freelance laborers He donates large sums of money to charity He hounds the maids to accept tips He’s so self conscious about behaving ethically that he assures us that the Internet porn he’s watching involves only respectful husband and wife actorsThere’s no denying that every page of “The Dog” is a little masterpiece of comedy erudition and linguistic acrobatics The uestion is How much of this can you endure? How long does it take to feel the full import of X’s harrowing loneliness? Arthur Phillips made this work with his brilliant debut novel “Prague” But “Dog” is closer to the kill me now tedium of Jonathan Lethem’s “Chronic City”When I started reading a chapter of “The Dog” to my wife she thought I was being far too critical but as the pages wore on she felt an urgent need to check on the laundry I envied her This review appeared in The Washington Post


  5. says:

    I see that one reviewer has already described this book as too smart for most people so there in a nutshell you have it One the one hand it is a breathtaking analysis of the Gulf States coupled with a masterly exploration of the themes of displacement alienation and the uintessence of No whereNo one A re Kafkaization of the post modern novel and an intelligent insightful examination of the Condition of Man if you will On the other it is a somewhat meandering never uite amounting to a plot ramble of a read but not in the familiar way of Virginia Woolf nor come to that in a truly Kafkaesue way For one thing I lamented the absence of a character in whom I could take a than a slight passing interest let alone love doubtless some would say that this is the author's point Stylistically it smacked a little too much of a lawyerly tone and his increasing use of a collection of closing brackets to tie up all the parentheses at the end of a paragraph wonderful the first time paled after a whileReading it I had the sensation that I was looking through a kaleidoscope one with truly beautiful enigmatic patterns which could change my life if only I were able to have got the damn thing into focus properly Doubtless I will have to wait until someone smart enough can explain it all to me


  6. says:

    Amazing but how can I say this without insulting the general public I can't not for everyone because it's too smart for most people Comically philosophical smart and minimally sarcastic it solidifies O’Neill’s place among the literary elite His sentence structure is a marvel in itself smart almost run ons that snowball into brainy legalese punch lines Heavy on anecdotal backstory soft on plot but constantly entertaining A New York lawyer immigrates to Dubai perhaps fleeing a traumatic breakup to work for the tremendously rich family of a college friend As the “family officer” in this bizarre desert wonderland our narrator navigates the strange conflicts signature to modern life Is his addiction to Googling and Facebooking and Wikiing any obsessive than all of ours? Is his attachment to his Pasha massage chair so wrong? Has vast wealth and technological development advanced or devolved society’s morality and intellect? The Dog is fantastically funny with deep heart


  7. says:

    With a heavy heavy disclaimer that Joe O'Neill is an old and good friend I will say that I am still making up my mind about this book but there is much that is seriously brilliant here It is Bartleby for the 21st century Also undercurrents of Kafka the stranger and remains of the day A lot to think about before bedtime


  8. says:

    Never written a review this early into a book but the writing is absolutely eye watering I've never read a literary writer whose prose looks so much like programming language and by that I mean lots and lots of nesting statements This is not a good thing When he's not nesting statements he's ualifying things that don't need to be ualified Or bludgeoning you with awkward similes Is there some kind of symbolism to this? Some kind of awful writing device? I don't know I haven't read that far He's also a fan of the run on sentence where sometimes an entire page is just one long sentence Here is the opening sentence I shit you not PERHAPS BECAUSE OF MY GROWING SENSE of the inefficiency of life lived on land and in air of my growing sense that the accumulation of experience amounts when all is said and done and pondered simply to extra weight so that one ends up dragging oneself around as if imprisoned in one of those Winnie the Pooh suits of explorers of the deep I took up diving The first thing that popped into my head was Is he a native English speaker? because that sentence is so disjointed as to be absurd And that metaphor Is it a metaphor? Or is there some kind of fetishistic diving experience that marries scuba and Disney in some unholy fashion? I'm sorry but I'm poor like an inner city kid who's barely seen a pool You'll have to explain your fancy hobby jargon to me Then there's the French French this and French that with no translation in sight It's very alienating First the scuba now the foreign languages Plus he's a lawyer uitting his job over a breakup with his girlfriend to work for his billionaire friend's daddy who apparently runs Zombocom At Zombocom anything is possible The only limitation is you At Zombocom the unobtainable is unknown Welcome How am I to relate to this pretentious wankery?I get that this is supposed to be satire but satire is generally you know enjoyable Pithy even I don't connect to this guy on any level and his ridiculous problems fail to entertain Not even the insights he's supposed to be relating about the lives of the rich and douchey move me and I'm generally a big fan of mocking the excesses of the one percent Maybe it's because I know very little about Dubai and mostly don't care I'm not made to care I'd like to think I'm open to hearing about it but not from a narrator who conveys thoughts in a way that's all glass and no candy appleMost of the time I feel like I'm just not getting the joke Perhaps I'm not hip enough to understand his post modern writing and how it brilliantly harkens to a bunch of dead author's works If I were well read I could high five myself for every obscure literary reference and maybe feel gratified by the masturbatory experience well enough to like this book As it is I just don't get it


  9. says:

    Man Booker Longlist? Publisher's Weekly Top 10? Surely notI was really hoping for a book based around the ironies that form modern day Dubai instead I got a rambling nonsense of facetious observations pornography meaningless words and multi bracketsSo here's an example of one needlessly wordy sentence I felt ashamed specifically ashamed that is which is to say filled with shame additional to the general ignominy that is the corollary of insight ie the ignominy of having thus far lived in error of having failed until the moment of so called insight to understand what could have been understood earlier an ignominy only deepened by prospective shame because the moment of insight serves as a reminder that such moments lie ahead and that one always goes forward in errorWhat pleasure is there in reading such knotted writing?On the multi bracket front a number of sentences had as many as six brackets within brackets Many words produced 'no definition' in my Kindle dictionary search and the insertion of many French phrases without translation was irritating Some pages were just lists even a list of e mails that the narrator would like to send to his boss but never did Then there was the section about what sort of pornography our hero liked to 'jerk off' toThe characters were all unlikable almost without exception Ali the man of all trades was the only one I had any empathy forThe one redeeming factor was the naming of the fictional tower blocks where the narrator lived he resides in the area of Privilege Bay in The Situation alongside The Statement and The Aspiration and overlooking Astrominium which is due to be over half a kilometer in height These cleverly named blocks promised insights that never materialisedAnd what about the Ted Wilson plot line? A fellow diver who seems to have disappeared leaving behind two wives This is never resolved or maybe it's just a warning that the ending of this novel is going to be just as much of a damp suid?I don't usually slander a book as much as this one but I found so little to enjoy that I wonder that I actually finished it A lot of it I skimmed which I very rarely doIf you are planning to visit Dubai and would like to read an appropriate book for your travels please give this one a miss I am currently reading and very much enjoying another book based in Dubai Beyond Dubai by David Millar This is a book with subtle humour and a wry look at Dubai but it also looks into the distant past of the Emirates and the people who lived here thousands of years ago through the archaeology they have left behind them


  10. says:

    This is the story of a man who moves to Dubai to work for a company with incredible wealth but uestionable dealings While it seems like a decent capture of some of the uniue elements of the culture and feel of Dubai a city with 90 percent ex pats and money than they know what to do with I didn't connect well to the unnamed main character I think that's his problem in general he doesn't connect with people well including his ex girlfriend and the many wives of a popular diverPart of it was the mispronunciation of some of the words in the audio Pedagogy as pedagoggy niche was wrong and a few others that really jumped out


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