Book Review – Night Goblins: A Memoir
About a week ago I was contacted by an author named JT Gregory, asking if I’d like to review his new book, Night Goblins: A Memoir. Night Goblins? What a strange title for a memoir, I thought. I clicked the link to his website, read the synopsis, and knew I had to read this book – which I did in a record-breaking day and a half. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about a book or an author in quite some time.
After doing a little digging online, I learned that JT Gregory had placed an ad on Craigslist several years ago trying to find a home for the kitten he found in a ditch near his house. The ad said:
Someone please come adopt this asshole
It went on to describe this orange kitten with such great wit and humor (“. . . he’s like a crack addict begging for a fix every time I take a step into the kitchen”) that the ad went viral. You can see the full ad, complete with a photo, here (believe me, it’s worth checking out).
Night Goblins is the memoir of the guy who wrote that ad, and just as that wasn’t your typical rehoming ad, this is not your average memoir. Weaving in and out of past and present, tragedy and comedy, in a brilliant stream of consciousness style with lavishly rich descriptions (ie: “The walls are the green of an off-brand mint-chocolate-chip ice cream that’s been marinating in the back of a dead freezer in an abandoned house”), Gregory paints pictures you won’t soon forget. It is a heartbreaking story of child abuse, alcoholism, war, imprisonment, and PTSD. It’s a story about a broken man and the kitten who helped pull him out of a self-destructive, guilt-filled pit of despair. It is a journey with “The Kid” as he relives past traumas, faces the consequences of his actions, and learns to put others before himself, until finally it’s “I” and “Me” instead of “The Kid.” The flashback scenes are so vivid, you feel like you’re seeing what the dog did through JT’s eyes; you are right there with him when, at the age of only ten, he tries to kill himself; you feel his horror and deep, deep remorse as he relives the night of the accident.
There are illustrations of some of the scenes in the book, and while it’s unusual to have illustrations in an adult book with adult themes, it works here along side the superbly crafted injections of comic relief. The illustrations, done by Antoine Bouraly, remind me of the ones in the old Little House on the Prairie books I read as a girl – tasteful black and white sketches. And although lots of books claim to be “laugh out loud funny”, this one actually is. If you’ve ever owned a kitten, I guarantee you will laugh out loud at Gregory’s telling of this kitten’s antics (“. . . spraying toilet water and flecks of homicidal spittle”).
Night Goblins is a special story, lived and told by an incredibly gifted writer. What makes it even more special, is the fact that some of the proceeds from the book and companion merchandise go to the author’s local animal shelter.
Get yourself a copy (free this weekend for Kindle on Amazon.com), because if the stir JT and Ditch have caused on the internet are any indication, this guy is about to become one of the most talked about writers of our time.
And check out the cool merch here !