Meg Rosoff - There Is No Dog

One must simply revel in the joyful singularity of Rosoff’s latest masterpiece.”
—The Guardian

Genius!”
—Anthony Horowitz

Meg Rosoff has the gift of being able to talk to the reader with a directness that goes like an arrow to the heart. My top choice for summer, it’s an astounding crossover novel. Profoundly funny, a masterpiece not to be missed.”
—The Times

Life: An Exploded Diagram has a good chance of next year’s Carnegie Medal if There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff does not get there first. I look forward to Rosoff’s novels because they are all so different, and this story of the world in the hands of a feckless and hormone-driven male has the spine-tingling weirdness of Just in Case, her existing Carnegie winner, which also explored the mind of an obsessive teenage boy. In the new novel, the boy in question is God, who created the world in a manner that suggests he was on Facebook with a hangover at the time.”
—The Observer

There aren’t many authors who, like Meg Rosoff, can claim to be read with equal delight by children and adults. There Is No Dog is zany, clever, and loopily enjoyable, and explores some of the themes that have haunted Rosoff throughout her career: identity, love, trauma and the madness of being a teenager.”

One must simply revel in the joyful singularity of Rosoff’s latest masterpiece.”
—The Telegraph

Rosoff is a brave and uncompromising novelist, with an excellent track record for writing edgy, uncomfortable but memorable stories. This latest effort is certainly all of those.”
—Independent

 


Extract

In the beginning, the earth was without form and void and the darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the spirit of Bob moved upon the face of the waters.  And Bob said, Let there be light, and there was light.

Only it wasn’t very good light.  Bob created fireworks, sparklers, and neon tubes that circled the globe like weird tangled rainbows.  He dabbled with bugs that blinked and abstract creatures whose heads lit up and cast long overlapping shadows.  There were mile high candles and mountains of fairy lights.  For an hour or so, earth was lit by enormous crystal chandeliers.

Bob thought his creations were very cool.

They were very cool, but they didn’t work.

So Bob tried for a blinding light in the centre of the planet, which gave off too much heat and fried the place black.  And finally, when he curled up in the corner of the nothingness, tired as a child by the harebrainedness of his efforts, Mr B took the opportunity to sort things out — with an external star, gravity, roughly half the cycle in darkness and half in light so that there was a Day and a Night.  And that was that.  The evening and the morning were the first day.  Not fancy, but it worked.

All of this happened while Bob napped.  When he awoke, light was no longer an issue, and he’d mainly forgotten about it in any case.  He’d moved on to waters and heavens, dry land and great oceans.  Mr B hadn’t ever seen anything like it, but he shrugged.  Why not?  Maybe the kid had some kind of a plan.

And Bob said, “Let the earth bring forth grass and the fruit tree,” and it did, and Mr B had to admit that many of the fruits were inventive and delicious, with one or two exceptions – pomegranates, which seemed to be all form and no function, and lemons, which caused his mouth to purse up like a duck’s anus and caused Bob to howl with laughter until he fell over into the oceans and had to scramble spluttering to safety.

Bob looked at all he’d done so far and saw that it was good.  And he said, Let the waters bring forth abundant species of fish-like creatures, and fowl ones too.  And boy oh boy, did Bob go to town on the creatures.  He put spines on some, and strange colours on others, he added feathers and scales, and sometimes feathers and scales; and savage sharp teeth and beady eyes on some, and sweet expressions and razor sharp claws on others.  Some of the fowl were lovely to look at, with long graceful necks and luxuriant plumage, but others had the most idiotically large feet, or wings that didn’t work.

Having neglected to create food, the beasts began to eat one another almost immediately, which disturbed Mr B and didn’t seem to be a temporary aberration but a situation destined to get far, far worse.

He began to suspect the boy was flying blind.

But before despair had a chance to take root, Bob suggested (with an annoying touch of noblesse oblige) that Mr B create something himself.  Though reluctant at first, B began to picture a race of majestic sleek creatures with gently smiling faces and powerful tails that swept through the seas at wondrous speeds — yet breathed air and gave birth to live young.  They lived underwater, but were not alien and cold blooded like fish, and their voices were eloquent and haunting.

And so he created the great whales, which even Bob had to admit were pretty nice.  And Mr B watched in awe as the blue-black waters magically parted for his creations and closed over them once they’d passed through.  Long after Bob had moved on to create a whole slew of idiosyncratic aberrations (like platypus and slow lorises), Mr B stared with happy wonder at his whales.

“How beautiful you are,” he whispered to them, and they smiled back at him with their subtle smiles, happy to be admired.

And then Bob went on to create every creeping thing, and some that leapt and climbed and slithered and tunnelled as well, and he told them to be frantic and multiply, which they did by the most gobsmackingly weird mechanism Mr B had ever observed, one that slightly embarrassed him as well.  He wanted to tap the boy on the shoulder and say, “Excuse my presumption, but are you quite certain about that?”

In the meantime, Bob was jumping up and down and pronouncing it all “good good good,” so good, that he couldn’t stop giggling with self-satisfied glee like a demented toddler.  And then, like the child who couldn’t resist adding more sprinkles to an already overloaded ice cream, he bestowed upon his creations a cacophony of different languages so that they couldn’t communicate with one another, and tied the weather to his moods just for fun, so that when he was cheerful the sun would shine, and when he was unhappy it would rain and storm so that everyone else was unhappy too.  When, eventually, B asked (with a great deal of respect he didn’t feel) how it was all going to work ensemble, Bob didn’t seem to understand the question, and Mr B sank deeper than before into gloom.

And then Bob blessed the whole misshapen weirdo lot of them, but not before performing an act of creation so audacious, so utterly appalling, so suicidal and wrong, that Mr B felt something must be done at once to stop him.  He created man in his own image, and gave him dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and the cattle and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Which anyone could see was one big fat recipe for disaster.

And when, finally, on the sixth day, Bob sat back (like the smug know-nothing Mr B had become utterly convinced that he was) and said that it was very very good, really amazingly good, adding that he’d like to have a rest now because all that creation had tired him out, B stared at him aghast and thought: You’d better get as much rest as you can, buddy boy, because you’ve just created one monster mess on your precious little planet, and the minute all those hungry fish and fowl and idiot carnivores with spines and sharp teeth and tiny little brains get together, there’s going to be a bloodbath.

As he thought those very words, the first lion ate the first antelope.  And concluded that it was very good, indeed.

The more Mr B thought about it, the more anxious he became.  Not only was he stuck with Bob himself, but with an entire race created in the image of that skinny arrogant dimwit.  This was not Mr B’s idea of a very good, or even a fair or a poor idea, or anything short of one more step on the road to eternal damnation.

Which is pretty much what it turned out to be.

* * * *