Review: 'Dork' is dorky, but not fun

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 07:19 hrs

Name: Dork - The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese
Author: Sidin Vadukut
Published by: Penguin Books
Price: Rs 199

2 March 2010

11 a.m.


You may wonder what happened, Diary. Well, I'll tell you exactly what happened.

There's been a buzz in the air that's been getting louder the last few days. Tweeple have been tweeting about a new 'genius' in town. The lonely black sheep and stray strawberry cows have nearly disappeared from my Facebook homepage, only to be replaced by the antics of a Mr Einstein (all you people living vicariously through this man's experiences need to get a life).

So I began asking around about this Robin 'Einstein' Varghese a.k.a. Robin Were Geese. My enquiries were met with surprise, disdain and plain hostility. It seems I had committed the worst crime in history. Being a Malayali, I had not read a fellow Malayali's book!

Oh, the horror!

Where was my sense of solidarity? So what if I hadn't read author Sidin Vadukut's blog? I should still have spent Rs 199 and bought his book to show that 'family' always sticks together.

Buy now: Dork - The Incredible Adventures Of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese

So I forked out the cash (the exact change, mind you) and I picked up Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese - a bright yellow paperback with an illustration that looks suspiciously like the author. Now where are my reading glasses?

11.05 a.m.

Well, it's been good and bad. The book starts out with a grammatical error in the very first sentence. Maybe Vadukut thought it would act like an evil eye. Let me see if it does its job.

11.45 a.m.

Well, I've finally met Robin 'Einstein' Varghese who's managed to land a Day Zero job with the consulting firm Dufresne Partners. With a glowing academic track record to back him (he came in 41st in his class), Varghese has thumbed his nose at "the greatest bank in the world" Goldman Sachs (who wants to work with a bunch of morons who think you are the court jester) to accept a job with the "second-grade firm" Dufresne (which, if you look at it holistically, stands "shoulders and head" above the rest, though it maybe near bankruptcy).

I'm just a few pages into the book, but it's been pretty interesting so far. The language is easy and the pace quite fast. Moreover, I'm all for delusional, self-absorbed heroes - it describes nearly all the men I've met. And the Malayalam swear words have me feeling all nostalgic.

Oh! And guess what? Dork is a series of diary entries. Seems Varghese is today's Doogie Howser and loves his laptop and MS Word! Now why does that seem familiar?

1 p.m.

Diary, I'd been warned not to read this book in public lest I embarrass myself by laughing out loud or by rolling on the floor, clutching my side, guffawing despite the stitch in my side. But I must admit that, except for the occasional chuckle (mostly at the Malayalam swear words), I haven't really done anything to embarrass myself. Che!

The humour seems to be restricted to liberally-used cuss words and Varghese overcoming every setback by deluding himself about how things are actually better the way they turned out. Truth be told, it's getting pretty repetitive. I've begun to predict how things will turn out, and most often than not, I'm spot on.

So far I've seen conniving co-workers, back-stabbing bosses, cut-throat competition, short cuts and deadlines, projects and pressure - the hallmarks of true blue corporate life. It's almost like that Madhur Bhandarkar film, but seen through the eyes of Cyrus Broacha!

The book is also chockfull of men. The few women who are introduced are mere objects to be lusted after or lampooned. Disappointed!

3.15 p.m.

Why does it seem like we are churning out only two kinds of books these days - those based on the 'real' (read poverty stricken, desperation laden) India or those based on the quirky life of the IITians and the IIM grads? Isn't one Chetan Bhagat enough?

I have several grouses with Dork: it doesn't have a single character that is level headed and rational; Vadukut is unable to sustain his humorous momentum for too long; there are a lot of slapstick situations, but very little of wit, satire or irony; the corporate jargon gets BORING after a few chapters and the jokes are too contextual, and the only time we see life outside of work is when Varghese pursues his other interest - love a.k.a. sex.

I'm planning to give this book to my friend, a teacher, and see if she gets anything out of it.

5 p.m.

I've finally finished it. Phew! What began as a quirky character soon degenerated into someone irritating and quite unreal. Drunken videos on Youtube, fellow Malayalis who are obsessed with "ass-licking" their way to the top or sending inspirational SMSes, and analysts who prepare 300-slide decks (read, presentations) for clients by copy pasting stuff off Wikipedia get very tiring, very soon. I think Dork would have made a fantastic short story instead.

Buy now: Dork - The Incredible Adventures Of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese

And Vadukut seems to have hit a patch of writer's block at the end. He wraps up the book way too quickly and a little too unconvincingly. (However, I do appreciate the pot shots at the media - television journalists to be more exact.)

What I can't fathom is why Dork is the first book of a trilogy? I dread to think what else Varghese can get up to. Curiosity may make me want to follow his adventures, but I don't think I'll have the patience to indulge my curiosity.

Well, that's it for today, Diary. Good night.

Or rather good evening.

What would Varghese say? Hmmm. Bring on the booze and let's party? Yup!