The Black Dog Eats the City is a novelette comprising of a series of loosely connected stories by Chris Kelso, author of Transmatic and Moosejaw Frontier, exploring a world that has been infected, gone mad and is slowly being eaten away at from the inside out by the Black Dog, a manifestation of deep dark depression. Featuring terrible people being eaten alive by a Just-as-Cruel universe, cities that are picked apart in the manner of sky burials by invisible vultures and excellent prose, this is a perfect example of love-it-or-hate-it fiction.
Without spoiling too much, The Black Dog Eats the City is a bleak book. I don’t mean sad-bleak or glimmer-of-hope-bleak. I am talking little-child-that’s-fallen-into-a-well-on-the-eve-of-nuclear-annihilation-bleak. This book deals with depression and depicts people suffering from this condition, in a world that is polluted and afflicted by it. Unfortunately, this means that a reader’s views will be extremely polarized on the subject matter. For someone who has perhaps experienced this condition (or is going through it), this book will be uncomfortably close to home. For others, who have thankfully been spared of feeling like everything that’s wrong in the world is somehow their fault, the themes of the book will fly over their heads. Furthermore, the visceral style of narration and prose of Kelso might alienate the faint of heart.
Coverwise, Matthew Revert has done an excellent job on the cover of Black Dog. His depiction is simple, brutal and the tattered, musty cover effect of the illustration as the beast hovers over the city is downright ominous. With how daunting a task tackling a book with this subject matter in mind is, the artist has managed to pull it off masterfully.