Inside the mind of a post-apocalyptic dog

At first I wondered how far a story from the point of view of a swearing cockney dog could go.

At least across post-apocalyptic London.

The Last Dog on Earth is told mostly from the point of view of Lineker the dog, but alternates between him and the journal of his cripplingly shy owner, Reginald Hardy.

Linekker calls him “Two-Plates.” Two Plates – Plates of Meat – Feet. Two Feet. Cockney rhyming slang is simple?!

I have to say of the two, Lineker is the most interesting. Once he got inside my head, I couldn’t stop imagining what it would be like to think like a dog:

“I’m skittering and sliding, halfway across the floor before I even know I’ve left my bed. And he’s rubbing his hairy face and scratching that huge arse of his, releasing that heavenly aroma of salt, peat and tripe that’s all for me and before he knows what’s happening I’m in the air and bouncing at him – bounce, bounce, bounce until he gets down and gives me a scratch…face-to-face so I get the sweet fog of his breath, a rich soup of saliva and half-digested food that’s been marinating beautifully for the last eight hours. And it’s too much, I just have to lick him…” (p.3)

The clever way that Adrian J. Walker describes a dog’s consciousness had me believing it.

Did you know that dogs can smell history? That explains why they take so long at lampposts.

That’s not all. Lineker reckons he can smell your dreams, too; memories; “the bone-bag abandoned on the moor,” and fear. Fear smells like voles.

Squirrels? Oil and eggs, of course. And spices – “like ants exploding up my nose” (p.4).

The good people of London have been betrayed by their affiliations on social media. The tension builds as Reg and Lineker attempt to take a little girl to safety, crossing the lines of two factions fighting for control and discovering a group of resistors.

But first, Reg has to get up the gumption to leave his secure little nest. And his fear of people touching him.

Walker uses a bird motif to great effect through the story. Poetic, this links events and is a vehicle for Lineker’s longing to escape the confines of regularity to explore the wildness of life.

Filled with “good bits” and “bad bits” poignant and pondering between small bouts of brutality, The Last Dog on Earth is also laugh out loud funny.

The Dog muses on the human condition since wolves came down from the hills to join the human’s campfires; his adoration for his master, and food, among other things:

“I stand on the brink of this new world of breakfast, trembling like a pilgrim father in the waters of Cape Cod. And then it comes and the smell smashes into me…my bowl’s on the floor and I’m in it, chomping it, inhaling it. By the time it’s done, I can barely remember who I am or what it was I just ate…”

Walker played with my expectations at the end, delivering a twisted conclusion. I could have (almost) killed him.

Happy Year of the Dog!

More dog stories

Trash or treasure? Outpost by Adam Baker

I can’t take it any more – I just have to complain.  Bitterly.  And at length.

With a name like Outpost, a tagline like “They took the job to ESCAPE THE WORLD. They didn’t expect the WORLD TO END” (and yes, the all-shouty capital letters are as presented), and a cover picture of a hazard-suited dude watching a burning city, it was always going to be either Trash or Treasure.

Sadly for Adam Baker, I’m placing this one firmly in the Trash category. Despite rave reviews from publishers on Amazon, lots of kudos from authors like Stephen Leather, and a general vibe that this is a great and gripping read, I’m not feeling the love.

The premise? Absolutely fab – what’s not to love here. A wintering-over skeleton crew marooned on an Arctic oil rig as civilisation falls to a global pandemic. The characters – hmmm, a little flat (conflicted chubby reverend Jane, dreadlocked dope-growing Sikh engineer Ghost, tattooed ex-con Nail, codeine-addicted doctor Rye: can you say walking cliche?). Tolerable, although there’s no real character development.

The storyline? Well, let’s just say, how many disaster scenario locations can you squeeze into one book? We’ve got the almost abandoned oil rig, the scientists marooned on the ice, the actually abandoned Russian research station full of biohazards, the crashing-in-front-of-their-eyes space station pod (with dying cosmonaut), the floating cruise liner (with infected ravening hordes), and I’m still only halfway through the book.

The thing that’s really tipping the balance, though (because despite all this, I can still see the potential), is the STYLE of the thing.  Every page has strings of sentences like this: “Flash of lightning. She let her eyes adjust. A seething ocean. Surging, frothing waves.”  Every single page. It’s like Dick and Jane Visit the Apocalypse. Can I make it to the end of the book? I don’t know. Do I even want to?  I don’t know. Also, there’s a sequel …

Have you read it? Vote below – trash or treasure? Or suggest some similar books that I might enjoy …

Rain, Cabin fever and survivalist tendencies

The road book coverIsn’t it great to see the sun again, my visions of flood, fire and pestilence are retreating with the clouds parting and the rain abating. The news is no longer full of flooding, the river Avon is once more within its banks and the family have had their flu pandemic shots. Equilibrium restored, no longer do I need to resist the temptation to race to the supermarket and stock up the larder with tins of soup and baked beans.

In our modern cities and towns we still have the primal urge to stock pile wood and food for the winter. Our basic urge to survive helps to explain why television programmes and wilderness survival books like those featuring Bear Grylls have a huge following. Survivalist scenarios change from decade to decade; the threat of world war, the nuclear bomb, pollution and today the threat of peak oil production and global warming. I turn on the news or pick up a magazine to threat of volcanic ash disrupting air travel, speculation over why the Mayan calendar finishes in 2012, Flash Forward’s latest episode points to the end of the world 2015 and our most popular film Avatar is about big business exploiting a planet. Then of course The Road paints a bleak picture of humanity’s future If you haven’t seen the film, read the book.

Perversely I find there is nothing better for making you feel safe and secure in your own “log cabin” than curling up on the couch this winter with a tale exploring futuristic views of post-apocalyptic earth. Your favourite hero struggles to deal with environmental disaster and a regressed civilization, as I pretend those few bottles of sauce and jars of bottled fruit I made mark me a true survivor able to fend for myself. If post-apocalyptic visions aren’t your thing try tales based on prehistoric civilizations where tales of food collecting, trapping and other survival tales abound or try a true tale of human endurance and outdoor life.

  • Cormac McCarthy’s The Road The novel paints a bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic America; a land where no hope remains. A man and his son walk alone towards the coast, and this is the moving story of their journey. The Road is an unflinching exploration of human behaviour from ultimate destructiveness to extreme tenderness.
  • Jim Crace’s The Pest house America, as we know it, has fragmented. Its machines have stopped, its communities have splintered, its history is forgotten, and the migration has started. This novel presents the story of an America adapting to a ‘medieval future’ without technology, science and social cohesion, and how two people find strength in one another against all odds.

Looking for more? Try:

Search our premium databases for your perfect read

What do you like to read in the wee hours as the winter storm swirls and you are safe in bed???

Loving winter think library