MR. DYNAMITE by Meredith Brosnan


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Experimental filmmaker, unlucky in love and finances, writes letters to his lawyer in the great beyond.

Jarleth Prendergast is a right likable fellow, at least to his own way of thinking. Late of Dublin, Jarleth has been scrounging around the East Village for some years as an experimental filmmaker. In actuality, he’s a thirtysomething nobody who works at a copy shop and sponges off his politically active Latina wife Martha. Like a bolt out of the blue comes a letter from Dublin attorney Sean Reynolds informing Jarleth that his aunt has just passed away, leaving him over $30,000. Jarleth is over the moon and already planning how to get his film career kicked off—tentative title of his magnum (short) opus, done with puppets: “Orange/Green Mould: Mr. Semtex Agent of Death in Toytown”—when he gets another letter informing him that Sean has passed away. This doesn’t keep the eternally inebriated Jarleth from composing a series of missives to the late attorney, whom he has decided, in the manner of the drunk, is one of his new best friends. Reduced to sleeping in his studio after being kicked out by Martha (she found evidence of one of his many romantic indiscretions), Jarleth gets word that a new will has been found which leaves him not a dollar. Thus we see Jarleth explode onto the streets of New York with a righteous frenzy, just begging for some sort of demented cause to sink his teeth into. Such a cause appears in the form of a rich man whom Jarleth is convinced once molested an ex-girlfriend of his (the chain of logic is long and stinks of whiskey). Will this man’s death become Jarleth’s last reason for living? Brosnan has a good time relating Jarleth’s expletive-laced rantings in all their pretentious fury, a kind of ironic counterpoint to Irvine Welsh’s self-glorifying gutter trash.

A sardonic little bomb of a book, ripe with black comedy and shivering with anger.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2004
ISBN: 1-56478-353-7
Page count: 175pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004