GEORGE THE DOG, JOHN THE ARTIST by John Dolan

GEORGE THE DOG, JOHN THE ARTIST

A Rescue Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The story of a desperately poor Londoner and a twice-abandoned Staffordshire bull terrier named George poses the question, "Who rescued whom?"

When acclaimed East London–based artist Dolan was jobless and living on government assistance, he could easily have blamed others or several factors that led to his hard circumstances. However, in his first book, he is surprisingly cleareyed and honest about how he largely caused his own failures: truancy, substance abuse, and being a career criminal with nothing going for him throughout his 20s. He was clearly disappointed in himself but managed to retain a kernel of optimism. Living in poverty in a cold, dirty apartment, Dolan admits he was "as far away from sensible as you can get.” Then he agreed to take George in from a couple of fellow transients. Readers share his sense of expectation of changing fortunes when he writes movingly about the first time he took George outside: "I just wanted to concentrate on how good it felt to be walking a dog again….It seemed like the first time in fifteen years I'd walked anywhere with a good honest purpose." The author’s forthrightness and great empathy for his new best friend ("God, I felt sorry for him. I knew exactly how it felt to be the one not chosen, the one who got left behind") make him sympathetic and engaging. With George beside him at all times, Dolan regained his creative fire and love of drawing, both of which were suffocated by his miserable circumstances. Knowing the book has a happy ending dulls any distress reading about the author's struggles or George's sad early life. With dry wit and a lack of sentimentality, the author maintains reader investment. His unpretentiousness and the struggles that preceded his eventual (and well-deserved) success keep this Cinderella story gritty and grounded.

A disarmingly modest yet profound tale of redemption.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4683-1120-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2015




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