Jet McDonald's Automatic Safe Dog was published by Eibonvale Press in February 2011.

Here's some information about Jet McDonald:

Jet McDonald is a writer, musician and storyteller. His fiction has been published in Subtle Edens – An Anthology of Slipstream Fiction from Elastic Press, Catastrophia from PS Publications and Blind Swimmer from Eibonvale Press. His work has been included in The Idler and Paraphilia Magazine. He is a member of spoken word collective Heads and Tales and in 2008 won the Missouri Review Audio Fiction Award for his contemporary spoken fiction. He has performed his stories and music at festivals across the UK including Glastonbury Festival and the Hay on Wye Literary Festival. His freaky folk band Jetfly have been aired on BBC 6 radio and toured nationally with four albums. In May 2010 Jet began an overland cycle tour to India.

Here's a description of Automatic Safe Dog from the publisher's website:

In this, his extraordinary debut novel, Jet McDonald has created a heady brew of volatile cocktail ingredients. Madcap surreal humour blends with vicious parody of the world of work, the vanity of “Creative” types, the torments of unrequited love, animal cruelty and the excesses of consumer society. Words and sentences undergo some kind of alchemy under McDonald’s reckless stewardship, he whips them up into little frenzies like performing pooches and makes them jump through the burning hoops of our open mouths and frazzled brains. Not so much a breath of fresh air as a snort of something industrial, read this book and become initiated into a rebellion of the mind that will leave you inspired and laughing with exhilaration.


I first heard of Jet McDonald when I read the Blind Swimmer anthology (it was also published by Eibonvale Press). It contained Pigs Eyes, which was written by Jet McDonald. After reading it I thought it would be nice to read more of his stories, because it was a good story. Now that I've read his debut novel, Automatic Safe Dog, I can say that he's an author to watch, because he has wild and interesting ideas.

I've always enjoyed reading weird and surreal stories, which push the boundaries of normality and acceptability, so I have to confess that the weirdness of Automatic Safe Dog appealed to my weird and twisted sense of humour (some of the best stories I've read have been at least partly weird, so I was fascinated by this book). I didn't know what to expect when I began to read it, but I was pleasantly surprised by it, because it turned to be a witty, funny and unapologetically satirical novel. I don't normally read satirical novels, but every once in a while it's nice to read this kind of stories.

Automatic Safe Dog is an interesting and skewed vision about a modern way of life. It's almost like a vicious parody of working life, consumerism and cruelty towards animals, because all these things get an unforgettable treatment from the author. Consumerism is handled in a satirical and ruthless way in this book, because the author demonstrates how far people are willing to go to achieve certain goals. This book also contains sex.

The main character of Automatic Safe Dog calls himself Terribly Velour or Telby Velour. He's passionately obsessed with a woman called Ravenski Helena Goldbird and will do anything to get her attention and be worthy of her regardless of her treatment of him. Telby is an interesting and a bit eccentric character, who creates a totally new identity for himself (he even creates a fictional career for himself and changes his appearance). Then he takes full advantage of his new career in a corporation called Pet Furnishings.

I liked the other characters too, because they were interesting. Telby's secretary, Abel, is quite a character, because he's only doing his job until he's discovered as a writer. Ravenski Helena Goldbird and Ibore Davidson are interesting characters, because the author uses them to demonstrate how weird business life and creative people can be.

This book contains several brilliant inventions, funny moments and surprises, which are better left unrevealed, because I don't want to reveal everything in this review. The most bizarre thing about this book is what's done to living animals, because they're being turned into furnitures. This is quite shocking and it creates a surreal atmosphere (what's done to the poor animals in the name of business profits is unsettling, but it's also funny in a satirical way).

Jet McDonald manages to infuse his story with twisted and weird humour. For example, the scene where Telby is being interviewed for a new job is quite hilarious, because he's having problems with bladder stones.

It's difficult for me to classify this book, because it's partly surreal satirical fiction and partly mainstream fiction. I decided to classify this book a mainstream book, which contains fantasy elements (this isn't a perfect classification, but it's probably the best way to classify this book).

In my opinion Jet McDonald has a vivid imagination and he writes witty satire about modern way of life, corporate life and unrequited love. He's taken a risk with this book, because writing satire is difficult, but he's managed to write a funny and inventive book, which will appeal to readers who enjoy black and twisted humour. This book reminds me a bit about the works of J. G. Ballard, David Sedaris, Chuck Palahniuk and William Burroughs, but it's distinctively different from their works.

I liked Automatic Safe Dog, because I'm used to reading weird books, but I think I have to be fair to readers and say that depending on your taste in books you'll either like this book or you don't. This book may not be to everybody's liking because of its unconventional themes, but it's worth reading, because it differs greatly from several other new books (it's possible that this book may be too weird for some readers, but in my opinion it offers lots of entertainment for readers who are willing to try something new). If you like surreal fiction and satirical books, you should definitely read this book. It's a one of a kind book.

Log in to comment
Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).