New Login   


Magesh Nandagopal

By Roddy Doyle
Macmillan, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 250, Rs. 399.00


Roddy Doyle’s Brilliant is less than a brilliant book. Ray and Gloria live with their parents and granny in the outskirts of Dublin. Their uncle Ben arrives one day to live with them (for a while, their mother adds). The kids learn that Uncle Ben is in financial trouble and cannot continue to live in his house even though the house is his—the banks won’t let him use it. The entire family loves Ben and Ben loves them. So, when Ben becomes depressed, and when their granny attributes this to the Big Black Dog of Depression that has descended onto Dublin, which has apparently taken the funny bone of Dublin, and hence taking away all the fun and smiles, Gloria and Ray venture out in the night before St. Patrick’s Day to find (and take care of) the Big Black Dog of Depression (lets call it BBDD from here on).  Ray and Gloria enlist their friend Ernie, and are joined in by dozens of other Dublin kids—each of whom has a depressed person in their home and believe that BBDD is the culprit causing the depression. They all run through the night, chasing the BBDD and yelling ‘Brilliant’ (apparently this word lights up in the space above and weakens the dog). In turn, the BBDD runs around the city and yells, ‘USELESS’, at the kids—on hearing this, the kids are all sapped of their energy and become faint and … well, depressed! Now, you might think, that this is charming and clever. But if, from page 76 to page 233, all that is happening is a bunch of kids, co-opting an assortment of animals along the way, going from point A to point B, yelling ‘Brilliant’ and the BBDD yelling back, ‘USELESS’—it gets tresome very quickly. One is forced to wonder if the author intended it as a parody of action-adventure type children’s novels. But the book takes itself and the themes it forwards far too seriously for this to be the case. The author’s use of heavy-handed imagery, invoked by the BBDD, the talk about kids being the future and hence the BBDD’s dislike for the kids of the city, the BBDD taking the ‘funny-bone’ of the city and hence the city losing its ability to … etc., provides irritatingly frequent nudges to the reader to take it seriously. At some point, one ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.