The schizophrenic narrator of "All Dogs are Blue" spends most of the novel in a Rio de Janeiro mental hospital: heavily medicated, and relying on his imaginary friends Rimbaud and Baudelaire for company. At one point the narrator says 'schizophrenics with delusional disorder have no words' and at another 'you shouldn't write about asylum life'; however, this latter statement is immediately qualified:
"No. Everyone has an asylum nearby. Either your handbag is an asylum, or your home, or even your wallet. Lots of things can be an asylum. I'm not talking about untidiness. I'm talking about real asylums."
Rodriguo de Souza Leão, who died in 2009, himself had schizophrenia and he has used his experiences to create a novel both depressing and mordantly funny. The narrator can talk about his madness sanely and it is this combination of delusion and clarity that makes "All Dogs are Blue" such an interesting and satisfying read. There is a lot going on and I think this is a book that will bear frequent re-reading.
A very sad and moving insight into mental illness. Powerful stuff. I am surprised that some reviewers mark it down because its confusing and not enjoyable. As I guess one must expect, its sometimes bewildering as the narrator lurches from one train of thought to another, with little or no obvious connection between them other than bizarre leaps of imagination. But it seems to me that any book that tries to give an insight into schizophrenia is highly unlikely to be enjoyable or straightforward in the conventional sense. The question of me is whether the book gives us insight into its difficult subject, whether its well written enough to be an engaging read, and whether it is coherent enough to hold our interest through some difficult issues. For me, the answer is a resounding yes, and so I recommend this short scream of despair and fear as well worth the time.
This was a really interesting book, unlike anything I have read before. By the end I felt like I knew and understood what it was like to be someone with schizophrenia. In reply to the reviewer who commented that it is hard to tell what is real and what is imagined, I'd say it is all very real for the narrator - often confusingly, terrifyingly so. The writing is beautiful and vivid.
I didn't enjoy this book; it's not really a novel - more a slightly fictionalised auto-biography. There's a certain amount of interest in being a fly on the wall of the asylum, and watching the brutal life of the inmates - fighting each other, sedation by the nurses and interviews by the cops. The internal thoughts of the narrator (the endless delusions relating to Rimbaud and Baudelaire and the alternatives of Paracambi (madness) and Caju (death)) are mildly amusing but it's hard to know what is real and what is imagined - which I guess is the point but it doesnt make for easy reading. The ending I thought was nonsensical. I also have a problem with a 90 page book and a cover price of £10.