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Mervyn vs. Dennis Kindle Edition
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So it is great to read a writer that is prepared to be rude, even if he completely overdoses on the comedy in what leaves, and in certain atypical social groups enters, the arse. And yet, even in this book there are groups that the author chooses not to offend. There is still an element of protectionism towards certain left of centre ‘BBC type standards’ of middle-class self-righteous piety. Perhaps that is genuinely the ground Saunders rests on, like some latter day Ben Elton, or just perhaps this author still compromises comedy to protect certain of his sacred cows.
But all in all, and especially considering the now comparative weakness, the containment, of British humour, this book absolutely deserves five stars. Writing like this helps give me confidence that the tide can be turned against the political correctness and the sanitisation of public thought. The ‘private eye’ of diverse all has been shown a crack in the door- a hope for escape from bland multicultural sterilization. In this writing, our everybody-cultured society had been found a little air. Not all fresh air exactly, as, as I said, Mervyn vs. Dennis is far too heavily focused on bottom humour, but certainly a wind of unfettered, socially penetrating, liberating humour.
Saunders’ writing is good, his comic timing is excellent. Now all he needs to do is put a cork in his craphole jokes and instead write to take the piss out of his own values as well as those of those that are even now almost beyond the fringe of cultural piety.
Not suitable reading for those that think they have a social right not to be offended. More pineapples and exotic fruitcakes, please, Mr. Saunders.
At times this book is clever, witty, and ironic but so much of it resorts to toilet and bodily function humor. I think that is a shame as this author writes well. I think he'd have broader appeal if he toned that side of his writing down.
Mervyn doesn't expect this tactic to work, overt bigotry being so distant from his own character and worldview. Yet it does - too well, in fact. Dennis won't leave Mervyn alone. He's so enthusiastic about having Mervyn work with him that he agrees to absurd pay demands. With his eyes on the prize, Mervyn realises far too late that he is now Dennis's best friend.
Mervyn vs. Dennis, a highly entertaining page-turner about real misfits, the weirdness of human relationships and the mysteries of pineapples, is a wild ride. It is consistently funny yet somehow manages to avoid lapsing into awkward, squirm-inducing cringe comedy territory.
Comic novels are a rarity today, and perhaps it is for that reason that Mervyn vs. Dennis has been published directly via Amazon. The greatest shame in this scenario is that it may miss out on the audience it deserves, and that potential audience may miss out on a singular and very funny short novel. I could not possibly describe any of the moments that had me smiling, sniggering or laughing out loud - name the last time someone repeated someone else's joke and it was actually funny - but rest assured, those moments were plentiful.
For all that it's an openly fun and funny story Mervyn vs. Dennis deals in some hefty themes. The handling of racism and bigotry is intriguing. Prejudiced characters are mocked, portrayed unflatteringly and turned into figures of fun, rather than being hounded with castigation and punitive exclusion or, at best, receiving a generous explanation of just why they are full of it. The novel's events take place in 2006, when even in Brighton - the demographically youthful and progressive setting - bigoted remarks were as likely to be laughed off as directly challenged, particularly when they came from your boss. Attitudes may have changed but, regardless of your thoughts on how individual bigots are best tackled today, the direction taken in Mervyn vs. Dennis is demonstrably a valid one for a comic novel.
It's also notable just how empathetic this novel is. It is witty and sharp but it is not cruel. Mervyn's attitude towards Dennis evolves from hatred and contempt to pity and sympathy for the awful, broken person before him.
Perhaps Mervyn tacks ever-so-slightly too close to being a Perfect Protagonist, cleverer and more observant than those around him, but let's not forget that he is a man who pretended to be racist to get a job - he's down here in the muck with the rest of us. And what better medicine can be found down here than laughter?
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