Jason Michel’s ‘Confessions Of A Black Dog’ is imbued with genius.
It is richly rooted in the traditions of European literature, religion, the esoteric and the need for iconoclasm.
The protagonist, Samuel Morgan, has a taste of Beckett’s Molloy in his refreshingly spirited view of the fallen world we live in. And it is this sense of some postlapsarian nightmare awakening after a fog of booze and seeing that the nightmare is real that is the power of the novel. Samuel Morgan sees the world through the distorting lens of alienation.
Jason Michel writes with humanity and generosity and a keen sense of style and humour.
The novel moves from the comical to the agonisingly pained experience of isolation.
Jason Michel has inherited and made his own the works of Celine, Genet, Beckett and Joyce.
The novel is by turns comic and tragic.
Samuel Morgan is looking for himself in foreign lands and sexual adventure, in the esotericism he encounters and the blurring of his points of reference.
The novel traces the protagonist’s path through various countries and pathways into the self and the author conveys what real travel is, an exploration of an inner map you do not get through a college degree. In the prose and Jason Michel’s subtle characterisations you get the sense that the search for self is ultimately the most illusory addiction of all.
‘Confessions Of A Black Dog’ is humane, intelligent, witty, beautifully and honestly written.
From the moment when at aged eight Samuel Morgan finds a bat ‘he had saved from behind the radiator [which] drowned itself in the milk he had left out for it’ to the ending where the author writes:
‘Close your eyes.
Just for me.
Can you see the trees in the desert?
Can you see how tragic it looks?
It is all gnarled, rough and desperate.
It doesn’t want to be a there anymore.
Can you see the Black Dog lying under it? This whole book had been on my head some way or another. Most of the characters are based on real people, some are not, but this book started with a dream about a Black Dog and so it will finish with one’,
the novel is full of the sense of the ways we sabotage ourselves, the inbuilt mechanisms whereby we are undermined by the past until we liberate ourselves from whatever tyranny is enslaving us.
The resident symbol is used by the author to represent the self undoing we seek.
The slow excavation we make in the sweating dark, the sense of Amor Fati.
Jason Michel achieves that sense of destiny.
The destiny of Jason Michel’s novel is to be read widely read.
The story is full of humanity.
It is endlessly readable.
Jason Michel, editor of Pulp Metal Magazine, author of the blog ‘The Beaten Dog Bites Back – Pulp Metal Magazine’s Dictatorial’