"The Black Dog Eats The City" by Chris Kelso

"The Black Dog Eats The City" by Chris Kelso

Chris Kelso has written a number of acclaimed and prize nominated works spanning a variety of styles and genres, and yet it seems the critical reception of his writing has revolved around a misplaced categorisation of his style, and that this oversight ought to be addressed even if the short handed manner of doing so feels unavoidable within the conscripts of this review. In other words, there is as much Victor Hugo and Balzac and Alisdair Gray in Kelso’s vividly realised machinations of a society being digested by moral and economic decay as there is Ballard or Burroughs. 

 Of that aforementioned list, only Gray has an actual knowledge and understanding of the post-industrial working class and its psychological conditions. Kelso also knows and understands this. He advances it. In the city of Ersatz depression is real and rightly so, a creature stalking the material conditions of the city's inhabitants. This is a book of the contained and Ersatz is the world in the corner of the bourgeois eye, the poverty scratching itself into your pupil. There is a very real fear, and possibility, that in reading you might contract the blackdog from the text itself, so virulent is the hopelessness that Kelso’s work details. You can feel depression emerging, taking physical shape, from the ambient pervasiveness of this in his prose. A depressive nihilism is not the event in this work but rather the environment and the metaphysical horror of that, of being consumed by the mere toll of being, is the position that the reader must go through, must back themselves to go through, in order to experience the work. In many ways this book is the most accurate and affective rendering of clinical depression that I've read.    

There is as much Victor Hugo and Balzac and Alisdair Gray in Kelso’s vividly realised machinations of a society being digested by moral and economic decay as there is Ballard or Burroughs.

The Black Dog Eats The City is an early work in an oeuvre that spans twenty books of fiction, non-fiction and short stories at last count. The novella’s first printing was greeted with that classic, if somewhat reductive, stamp of approval: namely hatemail and the leaching of one reality into another as its transgressive content apparently endangered Kelso’s employment. As grotesque as such delimited horizons are, they point to literature’s continued ability to threaten the material world, to demonstrate the tenuous hold on reality of the normative.

Some of Kelso’s other notable releases among these twenty books include The Dregs Trilogy (Black Shuck Books), Children of The New Flesh (11.11 Press), Interrogating the Abyss (Apocalypse Party) and the Unger House Radicals (Crowded Quarantine Publications). The point being that Kelso is a writer who has not only paid their dues but who has produced a significant body of work that is ripe for critical appraisal. Rereleased by West Vine Press in a handsome hardback edition, having initially been published by Omnium Gatherum in the UK, and boasting an new introduction and afterword, The Black Dog Eats The City’s reprint speaks promisingly to the question of legacy and the literary underground’s willingness to cultivate its own fecund environment. Kelso is a fiercely independent writer whose work has never courted the mainstream, the willingness of this press to reprint a work such as this is evidence of what I’d have to consider a noble mission. This isn’t to say that the act of publishing a book is a sign of hope or anything as crass as that. Rather it’s to acknowledge that it demonstrates a willingness to test the world, its readers and to trust that those who encounter the book are willing to undergo an experience.  

In fact there is something of a survivors' testament or samizdat feel to The Black Dog Eats the City, as if it were paradoxically an archaeological fragment from the future transmitted by the last lucid witness of humanity's descent into the dark ages. Or like it were something illicit discovered in the woods, an abandoned car park, a hotel room. This is fitting because Kelso’s work is not strictly science fiction or future bound but is instead an interstitial literature severing the artery of its possibility within our moment. The sentences here poke out of the page like broken shins through their legs' petticoat covering of skin and there is always more going on than the novel’s brevity or unremitting bleakness might conventionally suggest. At the outset of Black Dog it appears that Lester, the ostensible main character, might be the last resistance, but Kelso complicates this by calling into question whether, in the form of his resistance, the gesture of it, he might be another narcissistic super spreader of the social disease. The novel then morphs into a critique of masculinity, picking apart the calcified ressentiments glueing that narrow identity to the body and thoughts of working class men. Kelso’s style skirts the edges of being consumed by disgust but skillfully avoids the overly prescriptive loss of control such a feeling tends to designate. There is real darkness here but it is Kelso’s eye for the mordant, as seen in the Android subplot and the broken heart of BabyGuts, that details his command of the subject. The humour of the work is the moment the text overcomes itself, creates a distance at which to breathe. 

The world Kelso presents is one that has lost any memory of the past or hope for a future. It presents the cosmic horror of a shadow without a sun. Clinical depression Kelso knows that a confrontation with a monster is always a transformation, and that this transformation is necessarily traumatic as the monster represents what was previously inconceivable to the self. When you realise the monster is everyday life, the joke is you’re already being consumed. Would you still then be capable of even the bitterest laughter? Kelso affirms the possibility. 

Get The Black Dog Eats the City at West Vine Press or Amazon

Thomas Kendall

Review by Thomas Kendall

Thomas Kendall is the author of The Autodidacts, released May 2022. Dennis Cooper called The Autodidacts ‘a brilliant novel — inviting like a secret passage, infallible in its somehow orderly but whirligig construction, spine-tingling to unpack, and as haunted as any fiction in recent memory.’ His work has appeared in the anthologies Abyss (Orchards Lantern) and Userlands (Akashic Books) and online at Entropy.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.


leeminett's picture
leeminett December 6, 2022 - 12:21am

Compliment of the season. All thanks to the entire team of Hack West. I never believed that my credit score could be up again after several disappointments by those who claim to be credit specialist. I constantly followed up reviews about Hack West but didn’t believe because of the fear from my previous experiences. I took the bold step by writing Hackwest@writeme.com and Whatsapp +1 (424) 307 2638; I immediately got a reply from them assuring me of getting my score up and clearing all negative items in less than a month. I had to put in my all and Glory be to God they delivered on the promise, I now have an average FICO score of 782 and great tradelines such as mortgage, auto, installment, revolving and open accounts. The customer relationship is superb and charges are moderate. I strongly recommend Hack West  for all kinds of :

Credit Repair

Crypto Currency Recovery

University Result Upgrade/Change

Student Loan wipe

Catch a suspected cheating spouse

Rescue you from a blackmailer (extortionist)

Phone cloning

Website hacks

Clearing of criminal records

Social Media Hack, e.t.c.

Get the best and appropriate help now!!!!

nicholas0198's picture
nicholas0198 December 13, 2022 - 2:56pm

I got a letter from a collector stating I purchased crotons it’s fraud I sent info it was fraud so a few months later received for the same reason but it’s another collector, I also had some other collections and charge off with a credit score of 409 I tried on my own to fix my credit but it never worked so I read about X A P C R E D I T S O L U T I O N @ G M A I L. C O M and quickly contacted XAP, although I was skeptical at first but decided to work with him in less than 7 days I pulled my score and every have been fixed without any red flag; XAP increased my score to 810 this has enabled me to buy a good home of my own.

gloverbrian643's picture
gloverbrian643 December 16, 2022 - 9:11am

I had a criminal record that deprived me of so many opportunities alongside 17 hard inquiries and about 13 derogatory items which messed up my report and lowered my credit score to low 444 (TransUnion) 443 (Equifax) 510 (Experian). After my pastor told me about XAP Credit Solution. I reached out immediately and complied with all that he said, after about four days I was asked to pull my report to confirm the job has been done. Oh Yes...... My score is now 810 average across the 3 credit bureaus and all of those items are removed permanently. I strongly recommend them to anyone who’s in need of a credit fix. Email on: X A P C R E D I T S O L U T I O N AT G M A I L DOT C O M or Text: ‪(801) 988-9890‬

Jeana-C's picture
Jeana-C December 19, 2022 - 3:29am

My scores were at low 600's and I had few negatives and judgments. I have 14 credit cards, almost 70K in credit and I was curious - what is the road to an 800 credit score? Someone reliable recommended XAP Credit Solution on reddit and I’m grateful I wasn’t adamant in yielding to his advice.  I'm already a homeowner as it is today. I had 1 late payment from 1 year and 10 months ago which was marked as paid on time. I am happy to report I finally hit 800 on two reports (802 on Equifax, 790 Transunion and Experian 800) and the judgment is no longer on my report. The Chex system has been fixed as well. Hit XAP up via +1 (801) 988 9890 or email XAPCREDITSOLUTION AT GMAIL DOT COM. Good luck!

LISADONALDS09052's picture
LISADONALDS09052 December 22, 2022 - 8:37pm


My $1.65 million dolllars was stolen by a phoney wallet that refused to let me withdraw it. Their moniker was Coinbox/vip. When I launch the browser on my phone, the platforms page opens with the Coinbase logo. The legal description of their dapp wallet mentions Coinbase, and the help centre button links to Coinbase help. However, when I contacted Coinbase, they responded via email that they are not affiliated with Coinbox. Coinbox has now informed me that I must pay a 185k tax before receiving my funds. I immediately opened a case with Owlet tech recovery . com, a guaranteed recovery company, they patched me through MR MORRIS GRAY their smart contract developers on Whatsapp with [+1 (607) 698 0239 ] who then immediately performed a smart contract audit using digital triangulation from outsourced wallets. I’m crying right now as I just received a deposit of 127.4 Btc in my trust wallet. I’m now waiting for the Ethereum gas fee to come through so I can detach the remaining from outsourced wallets. his Email is: Morrisgray 830 @ gmail . com….

Clara Smith's picture
Clara Smith January 2, 2023 - 5:57am

Contact Dr Ozigidon if you have been trying to conceive, I never thought I'd be writing this message but after 5 years of infertility and nearly lost my marriage due to not being able to have a child after suffering from PCOS and my TUBES ARE TIED, and severe endometriosis and scanning, I was told that IVF was the only option. This was something we could not afford and had almost given up hope of becoming a parent. A friend of mine recommended Dr Ozigidon to me and persuaded me to contact him, I finally contacted him and he made a spiritual breakthrough to get me pregnant with his powerful spell, within 2 weeks I was pregnant (naturally!!!) and my tube was untied as instructed by this powerful sorcerer. Now! I gave birth to healthy twins in February. I am writing this testimony for those women who are facing the same challenges or even more, depressed with no light at the end of the tunnel. Give Dr Ozigidon a try to help you solve your problem, and hopefully you'll have the same success that I have had. His email address (drozigidonhnez.spell.net@gmail.com) . Call or Whats-App him +2349054750112. I wish you all happiness in your marriages.

Richard wahl's picture
Richard wahl January 16, 2023 - 6:58am




I am Richard Wahl of Sussex county, I want to use this opportunity to thank Dr.BALBOSA, the best lottery priest, for helping me win the $533,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot. It was the largest lottery prize won in New Jersey and one of the biggest across the nation...I have been playing lottery for the past 8 years now and the only big money I won was $800 ever since then I have not been able to win again and I was in so many debts. I need help to win the lottery again so I decided to go to a friend called Robert, he introduced me to Dr. BALBOSA because they live in the same city and he has also helped him win the lottery before...
Dr. BALBOSA cast a lottery spell for me and gave me all the relevant instructions which I followed accordingly... to my greatest surprise the next day I won the MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT ticket. This is indeed a miracle and I promise to always share this great testimony...
CONTACT DR. BALBOSA from any part of the world and he will make you win one time...
YAHOO MAIL: balbosasolutionhome@yahoo.com
GMAIL: balbosasolutionhome@gmail.com
WHATSAPP/CALL via +1(780) 628-5506
BLOG: https://balbosasolutionhome.com


Annette Mylan's picture
Annette Mylan January 18, 2023 - 4:51am

I am very happy, I am here to share my testimonies with the general public about what this man called Dr Adodo has just done for me , this man has just brought back my lost Ex husband to me with his great spell, i was married to this man called Steven we were together for a long time and we loved our self's but when i was unable to give he a child for 2 years he left me and told me he can't continue anymore then i was now looking for ways to get him back until a friend of mine told me about this man and gave his contact email (dradodojattotemple@yahoo.com) then you won't believe this when i contacted this man on my problems he prepared this spell cast and bring my lost husband back, and after a month i miss my month and go for a test and the result stated am pregnant am happy today am a mother of a baby girl, thank you once again the great Dr Adodo for what you have done for me, if you are out there passing through this same kind of problems you can contact he today on his mail ( dradodojattotemple@yahoo.com) on his Whatspp +18144484537 and he will also help you as well