Named as one of the 100 Best Things in the World by GQ magazine in 2003, the riotous adventures of Vernon Gregory Little in small town Texas and beachfront Mexico mark one of the most spectacular, irreverent and bizarre debuts of the twenty-first century so far. Its depiction of innocence and simple humanity (all seasoned with a dash of dysfunctional profanity) in an evil world is never less than astonishing. The only novel to be set in the barbecue sauce capital of Central Texas, Vernon God Little suggests that desperate times throw up the most unlikely of heroes.
DBC Pierre is an Australian-born writer currently residing in Ireland. Born Peter Warren Finlay, the "DBC" stands for "Dirty But Clean". "Pierre" was a nickname bestowed on him by childhood friends after a cartoon character of that name.
Pierre was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction on 14 October 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little.
He is the third Australian to be so honoured, although he has told the British press that he prefers to consider himself a Mexican.
I will attempt to make this review quite long, so that you will read a realistic account of the quality of this book before you read the boorish and thoughtless dismissals that abound below.
The common thread of said dismissals is a denunciation of 'Vernon God Little' as a unrealistic portrayal of the tragedy of a school shooting, similar to the incident at Columbine High in Colorado some years ago. The uncommon yet supremely smart and tasteful thread of *my* argument to that is that 'Vernon God Little' is only barely about a school shooting. Someone cites Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant' as a vastly superior study of a tragedy. Well, yes, that is correct. Because 'Vernon' isn't a study of a tragedy at all. It is, however, a better overall piece of art than 'Elephant' because that movie was completely boring and had zero count 'em zero actual elephants in it. Or shootings, if I remember correctly.
As I seem to have begun this review with a digression, let me interrupt to share with you the quote, on page 6, which hooked me:
"Deputy Gurie tears a strip of meat from a bone; it flaps through her lips like a shit taken backwards."
That's what you call a gem. And there is one on every page of 'Vernon.'
People seem to think that 'Vernon' was meant to be to the Columbine Massacre as 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' was to 9/11, or as the documentary 'Terminator 2' was to the coming robot rebellion. But it's not.
The school shooting is just an example of the larger malaise and absurdity DBC Pierre is pointing at with 'Vernon.' To even read the first sentence of the synopsis on the inside flap will show that Pierre is aiming a little higher than a recreation of the tragedy. The name of Vernon's Mexican friend that shot 16 kids and them himself is Jesus. Jesus killed a bunch of kids. Jesus is killing YOUR kids. And then killing himself. And Vernon 'God' Little is on the run from the cops.
This book has the very rare quality of being wildly funny and startlingly meaningful simultaneously. For this reason,a blurb on the back compares it to 'A Confederacy of Dunces,' and I agree. Although there is much more cursing and sex in 'Vernon,' which makes it automatically better.
Pierre also creates the most likable character I've read since, say, the protagonist in John Barth's 'The Floating Opera,' or what his face from 'The Sun Also Rises.' The sort of main character you can't help but want to see succeed. Or even William Stoner from 'Stoner' or Bjartur of Summerhouses from 'Independent People.' Characters who just can't catch a break, even though they probably deserve one.
Furthermore, all the narration is in Vernon's "fucken" dialect, which might get fucken old if it weren't so goddamn funny and Pierre was less tasteful and skillful with it. But he is, so it only serves to support the reader's warm feelings toward 'Vernon.'
The metaphor in 'Vernon' is trashily powerful. Cant' find the page, but something like "The sky was like a bunch of lint balls on a soggy graham cracker." Mmm. Lint.
Suffice it to say, you should read this book, and you should should ignore the idea that it is meant to be a paean for the lives lost at Columbine High, because it's not. If you can divest yourself of that thought, you will at *least* have fun reading it, whether you agree with Pierre's assessment of American pop culture or not, because it is a masterful farce.
"You don't know how bad I want to be Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ram her fucken gun up her ass, and run away with a panty model. But just look at me: clump of lawless brown hair, the eyelashes of a camel. Big ole puppy-dog features like God made me through a fucken magnifying glass. You know right away my movie's the one where I puke on my legs, and they send a nurse to interview me instead."
"Mom's best friend is called Palmyra. Everybody calls her Pam. She's fatter than Mom, so Mom feels good around her. Mom's other friends are slimmer. They're not her best friends."
Fifteen-year-old Vernon Gregory life is forever shaken up to the extreme when his best friends murders their classmates in a rampage, but for DBC that ain't the story. The story is how this atrocity draws the worse people, behaviours and mentalities to feed off of the pain and hurt for their own personal gain. A broadside at the worse of capitalism, consumerism and individualism using a cavalcade of biting satire and a monumental off-key and darkly comedic narrator in Vernon. This is a whirlwind of a book. A must-read; although I suppose should mention it contains explicit language, anal-fixations, abuse and a whole load of other triggers. 21st century The Catcher in the Rye, and taking no prisoners!
DBC (Dirty But Clean) Pierre's first novel is a slam dunk life affirm-er that there are other stories out there. It feels like a mash-up of Chuck Palahniuk, Oscar Wilde and South Park(!), with so many great one-liners, great incite and wit; and most of all - do you want to know what it smells like? It reeks of originality. 9 out of 12 for the reread; 7 out of 12 for the first read.
"I sense a learning: that much dumber people than you end up in charge."
I really didn't like this book at all, but I have to admit that it captures the spirit of America in an unpleasantly accurate way. Vulgar, frustrating, and sad in a farcical way, it shows the kind of (anti-)culture that created the nationwide mess that is now evident to the whole world, and for which the whole world may have to pay.
Meet the unsympathetic, cursing, uneducated antihero and his family in small-town Texas, and you will either laugh or cry, depending on the kind of philosopher you tend to be.
How do you deal with the hopeless stupidity of mankind? No answers can be found in this story, just snapshots of reality in its painful absurdity. Don't read it if you are allergic to foulmouthed morons, though. You will find no break from them in this plot. It is like Twitter gone novel.
Now think hard. Think real, fucken hard. That’s what I tell myself. Cept I can’t. Can’t think hard cause I’m too affected. Or is it impacted. Or is it impacted. I don’t know. Fucken waves, that’s all I know. Waves that bowl me over and tumble me head over fucken heels. Drowning me and scraping me in the sand and salt that seeks out all my old fucken wounds. Fucken scours and stings is what those waves do. Hardest fucken book review I’ll ever try to write, I know that much. I mean, fuck.
First thing you need to understand here is that Vernon God Little left me pretty raw. Emotionally speaking, I mean. The book fucken touched something painful in me. It may not touch you that way but it did for me. So it will show in my review, and if you don’t think you can handle my rawness, you can just quit now and go back to watching Court TV or Doctor Fucken Phil or whatever. Turn up the fucken volume so you can’t hear this shit. Second thing is that it ain’t all bad. This was also the funniest damn book I read since A Confederacy of Dunces. The book ends well and, hopefully, so will this review.
So this is the part I hate. The part that feels like fucken therapy with Dr. Goosens and his goddamn index finger. Pull down your drawers and spread your fucken cheeks. It’s okay I’m a psychologist which means I’m also a medical doctor. The fuck you are. That’s exit-only down there motherfucker. But I gotta do it if I wanna make bail, you see. I know I’m gonna end up on one a them web sites. Old sick fuckers gettin off on watchin Goosens invade my personal space. But I can’t run to Mexico. I gotta stick it out—no fucken pun intended. I gotta scream “I’m innocent!” before shit gets outta hand. So this is the part where I share my feelings. But so long as you don’t pull out your finger and sniff it, we’re gonna be okay here. Yes we are.
Look I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m not on GoodReads to learn about books. I’m on GoodReads to learn about people. I read all you nice folks’ reviews to learn about you ... about how the book affected you ... what it meant to you. I can learn about the fucken book anywhere. So what kinda asshole am I if I’m not gonna let you learn a little about me? So here I am. Fuck.
And it basically boils down to this one learning I made from this book: we all have our own massacre. You included, that’s right. You just don’t fucken know it yet. It’s there, either happening or waiting to happen. And you’re hoping if nobody sees it then it ain’t real. You’re hoping if you know it’s gonna happen but you don’t tell nobody then it ain’t really gonna happen. But it’s gonna fucken happen. And it’s gonna be fucken real. It sure as hell ain’t your fault, though everybody else sure as hell thinks it is. They look at you sideways, the way people do, but you jackrabbit them and they look away all embarrassed. They ask you the same goddamn questions and it don’t matter how many times you say “I didn’t do it.” And here’s another leaning I made from this book: all those motherfuckers will control you so long as you let them. But you gotta shift the power-dime in your favor. I ain’t gonna tell you how to do it, though. You gotta read the book for yourself, see?
So what about me, you’re asking? Am I ever gonna get to the fucken point? Fine. I’ve been putting it off till I made sure you knew that you had your own fucken massacre, too. And I ain’t looking for no damn sympathy, just so you know. My massacre is my pain. Physical pain. Several years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Oh that you say? That shit’s not a real disease. That shit’s an excuse for lazy fuckers who don’t wanna work and like to take prescription pain killers. Well fuck you. You don’t know fucken shit. I bust my ass to provide for my family and run a tight household and I do it in pain every fucken day. And you think I like taking the hard pain meds? You think that’s fun? Well if that’s what you think then you got your own fucken problems cause it ain’t no fun. Nearly every day I have to choose between being in pain or being high. I’d really rather be neither but most days that isn’t one of the choices. I got my number-2 pencil and my scantron and I look to fill in the bubble for “none of the above” but it ain’t there. That ain’t no damn fun at all. And like Vernon I get blamed for my massacre; sometimes I feel like I'm fucken on trial for it. But from my point of view I was just in the wrong place at the wrong fucken time.
But I told you it would end well, didn’t I? So enough of my fucken problems. This book is full of some really funny shit, ya know? I mean, like, did you think Mr. Dee Bee Cee Pee-Air could write a book about murdered teenagers and betrayal and pedophilia without throwing in some humor? Who the fuck would want to read that? So Vernon God Little is fucken full of humor. Things I never woulda thought about. Like the difference between fucking and fuckin and fucken. There’s three different kinds a people right there. Or like the things you can tell about a woman by the kind of panties she’s wearing. Like where she’s from and where she’s goin, if you get my meaning. Oh and how bout the way Vernon’s whole town is fixated on the Bar-B-Chew Barn? I mean, are you fucken kidding me?
So, look here. The book ends well, this review ends well, and I just have to believe life ends well. I know there’s plenty examples of life not ending well for decent folks. But there’s also plenty examples of things turning out fine for folks who treat people nice and keep their noses out of trouble, and I can’t speak for you, but that’s where I choose to place my hope. Now, let’s talk some more about ladies’ panties ...
I honestly don’t know what the judges were thinking awarding the Booker Prize in 2003 to Vernon God Little. Not that it is not occasionally mildly entertaining but it has a gimmicky one-trick pony stamped all over it. And that trick is not all that to be fair.
The subject matter is serious – high school shooting – American teenagers’ favourite pastime, but the style is humorous. The author is under the impression he can make his narrator, a Texan boy, authentic by making him say ‘fucken’ three times on every page. And while Vernon Gregory Little might make a witty observation every now and then, he generally comes across as a cartoon. And so does everybody else in this book – they are just a bunch of badly drawn clichés. Imagine a choreographed reality TV taken to extreme, and then have someone create a parody of it and that’s what Vernon God Little is.
As I said it could all be mildly entertaining but then DBC Pierre inserts those serious bits, because, you know, Vernon’s friends have all been shot and he is accused of murdering them and facing Death Row, and then DBC Pierre expects me to empathise, which is as preposterous as if South Park creators expected me to cry each time they kill Kenny.
Maybe it’s me. Because some people seem to think it was gripping and powerful. I just didn’t get it. I thought it was trite.
But at least, given that Vernon moves between Texas and Mexico, I got to cook some Tex-Mex yummy junk food. And what’s more Tex-Mex than nachos? Here they are with home-made guacamole and salsa (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/...). I think I need to stop reading so many American books before I cause some serious damage to my cholesterol levels.
It's comparison to "Confederacy of Dunces" may be inescapable. Both deal with plenty of the following after all: poor suffering mamas and the boys who devastate their love for them; a protagonist's distrust of society at large; a constant mention of fate or other celestial devices (Fortuna's Wheel for Toole, "God" in the title by Pierre); digestive maladies...bile and acid in interplay; the hero being utterly, pathetically, heartbreakingly misunderstood while the law and its enforcement become ludicrous.
Martirio, TX (Martyrdom, TX) is not without its dunces. That Vernon is always at throes with the law and with himself and with his family makes him effectively endearing to the reader. But the plot's collision with actual modern events (SPOILER) i.e. schoolyard massacres seems too, well, too... contrived? Too stuck-on? A bit like what racism is to a book like "To Kill a Mockingbird"--very hidden a theme & deeply embedded, almost invisible--the daily headline-grabbing bloodbath is to a book like "Vernon God Little."
This one got thrown at the wall in a short space of time. My mind was prepared to love it but then I was confronted with the ugliest writing about the the ugliest antihero who was the modern hip hop version of the snivelling little creep in Catcher in the Rye who I've always wanted to go back in time and murder but can't because he's imaginary. Some other review of this says - quote - as the novel unfolds, Pierre's parodic version of American culture never crosses the line into caricature - unquote and I say - uh, WHAT??? It starts off with painful cliche caricatures and escalates from there. The subtitle of this book is "Caricatures R Us". The author is DBC Pierre and the DBC stands for Dreadfully Boring Caricatures. So after I that I watched "Elephant" which may not be such a masterpiece itself but it's better'n this bad book.
Short list of things about school shootings:
Bowling for Columbine Elephant We Really Must Talk About Kevin, I Insist, No Really, Shut Up, Listen to Me Vernon God Little If You Really Must Columbine, a great book about the real thing, see my long review elsewhere
The life of Vernon Little, a normal teenager who lives in Martirio, Texas, falls apart when his best friend, Jesus Navarro, murders their classmates in the schoolyard before killing himself, and Vernon is taken in for questioning.
He cooperates with Deputy Vain Gurie, because he had been running an errand for a teacher, Mr. Nuckles, and is not involved in the massacre. The perception of Vernon's innocence weakens when his Mom's best friend, the food-obsessed Palmyra (Pam) arrives and, against Vernon's better judgment, whisks him off to Bar-B-Chew Barn, allowing the police to claim he is a flight risk.
Eulalio ("Lally") Ledesma, supposedly a CNN reporter, ingratiates himself to Doris, Vernon's Mom, and promises to help Vernon "shift the paradigm" of his story. Instead, Lally betrays Vernon, who is returned to jail pending a psychiatric analysis.
تاریخ خوانش روز چهارم ماه مارس سال 2010 میلادی
عنوان: تابستان گند ورنون؛ نویسنده: دی.بی.سی پییر؛ مترجم: مریم محمدی سرشت؛ تهران، افق ، 1388؛ در 491ص؛ شابک 9789643695095؛ چاپ دوم 1392؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان استرالیایی تبار ایرلدی - سده 21 م
ورنون خدای کوچک؛ نخستین رمان نویسنده ی استرالیایی، دی.بی.سی پیر است؛ که اولین بار در تاریخ روز بیستم ماه ژانویه سال 2003میلادی منتشر و همان سال برنده ی جایزه ی ادبی «من بوکر» و جایزه ی ادبی «کاستا» شد. و از سوی نشریه ی «جی.کیو» به عنوان یکی از صد اثر برتر جهان برگزیده شد. همین کتاب در ایران با عنوان «تابستان گند ورنون» شناخته میشود؛ و درباره ی زندگی نوجوانی به نام «ورنون» است، که به اتهام کشتار گروهی از دانش آموزان توسط دوستش در تگزاس دستگیر شده است. «ورنون گرگوری» با بیگناهی ذاتی خویش و با طنزی شیرین و نگاهی گستاخانه، زندانیان بند اعدامی را، انسانهایی محترم جلوه میدهد، و با همیاری قهرمانهای داستان، آثار کلاسیک آمریکا را تداعی میکند. روایت ورنون یادآور «ناتوردشت» است، و فراز و نشیب زندگیش از او «هاکلبریفینی» امروزین میسازد؛ ا. شربیانی
I personally met DBC Pierre last week in TataLitFest in Mumbai. He was shocked to see the first American edition of the book that I posses, he said that was very rare, and now I have that copy author signed as well :P. I must say he is wonderful man, full of life, comedy, wit and down to earth attitude. You don't feel if you are around that he might be a big celebrity or something and I guess this is the right attribute of great people. I spoke to him around 15 minutes and also said "I love you" to him which he translated back. I am very impressed by him.
Anyway, now coming up to the book... This is a story of Vernon God Little - a 15 year old fellow who was caught at the wrong time in school when his best friend Jesus killed 15 students in his class and later shot down himself... and now Vernon was the only person who could have any highlight on the case ... Also there was a court case on Vernon because he was the Jesus' best friend and might be also indulged in this ... there was also a sweet mother forcing Vernon to join a job as he is big fellow now. The book all revolves around hypocrisy of media and publicity tantrums and misdirected doings by media channels to get publicity, by hook and crook. Nobody wanted to hear about Vernon's soul.
The book is in first of narration of Vernon... I also felt the voice of the protagonist like Holden in 'Catcher in the Rye'(which even I asked DBC Pierre and his reply was 'there was a big gap between the generations) and the movement of story(Which looked to me like 'The Stranger' by Albert Camus: As Vernon in last got the death sentence same as the protagonist in 'The stranger').
Also there was a media channel that proposes in the later half of the book:the reality show based on convicts and gain of votes on sympathy.
But I must point out the main USP of the book was the Voice of Vernon which was very comic, satirical, real(although the plot was really pretentious but able to convince in the end) and that was able to slap on society, its gossipy nature, lack of empathy and craving of some individuals to go up to any level for publicity.
But I guess you should all read it because every page it seemed VERY ENJOYABLE and while reading the book I had the feeling like I was eating Butterscotch ice-cream ... I really loved it :)
And once again my faith on Booker books persists with this one :)
Some quotes that I liked : "Fate always pays attention to what you think, then slams it up your fuc*ing ass."
"see me and suffer."
"What I definitely learned just now is that everything hinges on the words you use. Does not matter what you do in life, you just have to warp things in right kind of words."
"Music is crazy thing when you think about it. sometimes you all get boosted, convinced you are going to win in life, then the song's over and you discover you fuc*en lost ... What happens with sassy music is that you get floated away from yourself, then snap back to reality too hard. The only antidote is just to stay depressed." -- Vernon God Little.
Little did I know when, as a bored student one university vacation back in the late 80s, I read my parents' copy of Midnight's Children, that over 30 years later I would reach the point of having read all of the Booker winners (though strictly speaking my copy of In a Free State was incomplete).
Two chapters into this book I was thinking it might get one of my very occasional one star reviews. The 15 year old unreliable narrator seemed obnoxious and his humour and language unsubtle to say the least.
Fortunately it did improve a little and the second half was in places quite a crazy and entertaining satire of the values of middle America, and the whole thing does have energy and a degree of cheek, but I don't think it has lasted as well as most of the other Booker winners. If anything it made me appreciate The Sellout, my least favourite recent winner, rather more.
What’s the Booker Prize, and why did Vernon God Little win it?
Ok, let me back up. We’ll get to the Booker Prize in a couple paragraphs. I read Vernon God Little in part because the novel was recommended in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, a go-to reference when I’m at the library and lost for a book :
The novel’s storyline charts a standard “outside teenage male observing the world” path. Mr. Pierre might want to send the Salinger estate a percentage of his royalties. When people compare this book to Catcher in the Rye, however, I think they’re comparing the two novels because they’re both first-person outsider young adult male narrated, not because they’re of the same quality. Vernon, unlike Holden, lives in Texas with his mother in the wake of a Columbinesque tragedy perpetrated by his best friend. As the town wrestles with the media and insidious desperation for a scapegoat the title character maneuvers a landscape that pins the blame on him mostly, it appears, because he’s not proclaiming his innocence loud enough. He slips from his tract house to Houston to Mexico, encountering shady television producers, the once girl of his dreams, and hermits into amputee porn. The author lapses into a lazy magical realism here and there to cover what seemed like impossible plot developments, but the storyline travels ahead on Pierre’s keen observations that describe, for example, the smell of real life as similar to that of escalator motors. Pierre’s good paragraph to paragraph, really, and I was drawn enough into the plot to read the last eighty pages through a steaming Sunday under the gazebo on the back porch.
But the Booker Prize? Isn’t that supposed to be a big deal? Coetzee’s Disgrace won four years before Vernon God Little, and people around goodreads wet their pants over that novel. Fuck me, I don’t know why Vernon God Little won the Booker Prize. Was 2003 a slow literary year? I have a theory about the Booker win that revolves around the assertion (not particularly well-supported, I must admit) that the prize committee is based in London, and Vernon God Little could fit a European perception of American white trash international readers might find interesting. Hey, Americans love reading books and watching movies about underdogs mired by birth in depressing circumstances in other countries (think the vastly overrated Slumdog Millionaire), so why can’t other countries’ cultural consumers pick over our bones and feel superior about small town Texans overeating and shooting each other up? I don’t mind. Texas kind of feels like a foreign country to me, anyway, in part because I’ve only visited once and never left the airport. So I guess Vernon God Little is a decent book with some strong language and excellent passages but the novel doesn’t seem worth mentioning as some big prize winner or one of the thousand books you have to read before you die. And if the Booker Prize committee wants a peek into American white trash culture, I’ll be happy to pick them up at O’Hare and drive them around for a couple hours. Or they could order pizza and watch Cops. Whatever works. We’re here for you, Europe. Thanks for the Booker, even if I’m not sure Mr. Pierre earned it.
Started this afternoon on the plane (Infinite Jest was too big to fit in my laptop bag), and already rather more than halfway through. It's Huck Finn on acid, and the author's technical skill is impressive. Who would have thought you could come up with a joke whose main point is a confusion between Kant's doctrine of the Ding an Sich and the Schrödinger's Cat paradox, make it part of a narrative told by a 15-year-old hick who isn't doing well in school, and still have it be laugh-out-loud funny? Well, I can imagine finding something like that in Infinite Jest too, but there it would be stuffed with Latin-derived words and decorated with footnotes. Here, it's in plain Anglo-Saxon and all the better for it.
If I ever start my own barbecue restaurant, I’m definitely stealing the name Bar-B-Chew Barn from this book.
Vernon Little has problems. His best friend just killed 16 of their fellow students in a school shooting, and the police suspect he may have been involved. His mother is more concerned with faking the purchase of a new refrigerator to impress her so-called friends than Vernon’s issues, and a sleazy producer/reporter is trying to turn Vernon into his ticket to stardom by implicating him in the killings. And Vernon is too lost in his own adolescent fantasies and bewildered by the adults around him to convince anyone he’s innocent.
Well written and darkly funny with a lot of good satire about small-town Americans and the media, I didn’t enjoy this book much. It wasn’t because of the dark subject matter, it was just because everyone in it is just so goddamn mind-numbingly stupid that it was hard for me to take. And not just stupid, there’s a casual level of indifference and cruelty here that’s also tough to stomach. At times, I found it hard to root for Vernon just because he’s so damn dumb.
The last act of the book finally has Vernon growing up and getting a little smarter, but I almost quit on this one halfway through. I can deal with stupid. (I even like Will Farrell movies.) But when there isn’t a single character with 50 IQ points to point out the stupidity, it wears me down.
Another book read for my coming-of-age encyclopedia entry. It's pretty clear this book won the Booker Prize because the Brits felt like flipping the bird to America. It's as if they said, "This is what we think you're capable of, you warmongering sons of *&$#^." (Remember 2003: The Year We Went to War. The Year Everybody Across the Atlantic Started Hating Us).
There is really nothing here to recommend. Take something topical (school shootings), add an all-too-obvious critique of contemporary society (the media demeans us), add a plethora of cartoon characters (the attention whore of a love interest, who celebrates here boyfriend's imminent execution by posing for Penthouse---natch!), throw in a bunch of supposedly "hip" slang, mix with a motif involving dookie. What do you get?
Brilliant! A worthy winner of the Man Booker Prize 2003. From the outset I felt a lot of sympathy for Vernon Little whose world view seems to be much wider and keener than the dumb-ass adults he's stuck with in Martirio. I've read quite a few different fiction books about high school massacres, most of them generated after Columbine but this one was quite different as the high school shooting spree in Maritirio is not the focus of this story. It's difficult to talk about this book in detail without giving away spoilers but basically Vernons trials, tribulations and subsequent trial all highlight the fact that the worst thing in the world can happen in your home town and somehow people will still either want to get on TV or make a fast buck out of other peoples misery.
All these years later, Vernon God Little still strikes that sweet spot between comedy, tragedy, and incisive social critique. It’s not really a novel about a school shooting, it’s a novel about small towns, about what we see, and what we don’t see, and the power of group mentality and the media in a crisis for bad as well as good. It’s great writing and it’s a great read.
Huckleberry Finn meets South Park at the Mexican-American border. I saw a review from the SF Chronicle that described this book that way, and it's hard to improve on. But I will try anyway. Or at least I'll give a bit more detail.
It's wickedly funny ride as the author leads you through increasingly crazy situations that are just plausible enough that you buy in. If you are deeply offended by the 7 words you can't say on television, stay away from this one. The foul mouthed narration is part of what makes you believe that this is being told by a teenage boy. And part of what clues you in to the satirical nature of this adventure.
There is a lovely (slightly twisted) redemption through giving people what they want theme that I have often thought of when dealing with my more difficult clients and co-workers.
Fast moving, dangerous issues, completely irreverent, laugh out loud funny.
Why not 5 stars? probably just because I'm stingy.
It is the third book this year where shit, figurtive human excreta, has been given so much attention. No wonder I don't enjoy reading books as much anymore. The other two books are The Discomfort of Evening (another booker winner; booker committe seems to love shit) and the book that probably introduced shit to literature - Gargantua and Pantagruel (still reading)
This one moves around America's love for things that shoot - guns and cameras. I can admit satire on media trial had some brilliant elements and Vernon frequently makes some good observations but, in the end, it was more like a shadow of a real book.
Moreover, in hindsight, it may not have been a book about shootings at all. You learn nothing about what, why or how of shootings or what author thinks about them. Shootings may have been just that big thing that overshadowed the centeral theme - the human need to turn everything into entertainment (just as the woman kidnapping theme overshadowed the main theme of Room which was more about mother-child relationship). But there are more problems here - for example why is it that everytime a literary fiction author writes from perspectives of teenagers in States, they feel need to make them swear in every other sentence? If your protagonist can't be a good narrator, why go for first person narrative at all? I guess I just ain't that big a fan of satires.
‘Vernon God Little’ by DBC Pierre is such a bitter bitter satire! I think this novel delivers the strongest high-end literary acerbic social commentary, in fact, powerful lemon-sucking strong commentary, on contemporary small-town life and cable news media I have ever read in my lifetime! But somehow there still is a lot of emotional warmth underlying the takedown!
Pierre won The Man Booker Prize of 2003 for ‘Vernon God Little’.
It’s a tight, fast-paced plot written all in fun. A rollicking comedy-drama! And a solid-gold wordplay tour de force! And best of all, emotions are not left behind in all of the high-powered literary Artistry.
Fifteen-year-old Vernon God Little finds himself convicted of murder in the eyes of his community, Martirio, Texas, looooooong before any investigation begins. Sixteen kids are shot dead by Vernon’s best friend Jesus on a schoolyard. Everybody knew Vernon and Jesus hung out together. Vernon inadvertently piles wood on the fire because of some statements he makes and a guilty demeanor. At least, that is how his actions seem to the neighbors, the authorities, his mother and her friends, and a TV repairman, Eulalio (Lally) Ledesma (TV repairman - symbolic, yes?). Lally masquerades as a cable news journalist and intensifies the town’s reactions through slanted reporting. This makes him a star reporter courted by CNN! Lilly’s video footage elevates the town’s suspicions of Vernon as a co-killer with Jesus.
When the police come for Vernon, he takes off for Mexico. Miraculously, he gets by border checks, but hello, he’s only fifteen, he has no money and he doesn’t know what the frick he is doing. Well. Things go way south (many puns intended - sex acts too). He isn’t free for long.
What happens to Vernon is a horrible miscarriage of justice, but the author squeezes the lemony goodness of satire down to a pulp(y) sh*tstorm. Laughing and crying at the same time, I found I couldn’t put the book down.
The artful use of language by the author is a writing gem! He takes writing to the furthest ends of what is possible using English as a playground of words.
“It’s hot as hell in Martirio, but the papers on the porch are icy with the news. Don’t even try to guess who stood all Tuesday night in the road. Clue: snotty ole Mrs. Lechuga. Hard to tell if she quivered, or if moths and porchlight through the willows ruffled her skin like funeral satin in a gale. Either way, dawn showed a puddle between her feet. It tells you normal times just ran howling from town. Probably forever. God knows I tried my best to learn the ways of this world, even had inklings we could be glorious; but after all that’s happened, the inkles ain’t easy anymore. I mean - what kind of fucken life is this?”
Sample of a description:
“A shimmer rises off the hood of Pam’s ole Mercury. Martirio’s tight-assed buildings quiver through it, oil pumpjacks melt and sparkle along the length of of Gurie Street. Yeah: oil, jackrabbits, and Guries are what you find in Martirio. This was once the second-toughest town in Texas, after Luling. Whoever got beat up in Luling must’ve crawled over here. These days our toughest thing is congestion at the drive-thru on a Saturday night. I can’t say I’ve seen too many places, but I’ve studied this one close and the learnings must be the same; all the money, and folk’s interest in fixing things, parade around the center of town, then spread outwards in a dying wave. Healthy girls skip around the middle in whiter-than-white panties, then regions of shorts and cotton prints radiate out to the edges, where tangled babes hang in saggy purple underwear. Just a broken ole muffler shop on the outskirts; no more sprinklers, no more lawns.”
Scene during Vernon’s interrogation:
“A knock at the door saves my Nikes from fusing. A wooden hairdo pokes into the room. “”Vernon Little in here? His ma’s on the phone.””
“”All right, Eileena.”” [Deputy] Gurie shoots me a stare that says ‘Don’t relax’ and points her bone at the door. I follow the wooden lady to reception.
I’d be fucken grateful, if it wasn’t my ole lady calling. Between you and me, it’s like she planted a knife in my back when I was born, and now every fucken noise she makes just gives it a turn. It cuts even deeper now that my daddy ain’t around to share the pain. My shoulders round up when I see the phone, my mouth drops open like, duh. Here’s exactly what she’ll say, in her fuck-me-to-a-cross whimper, she’ll say, “”Vernon, are you all right?”” I guarantee it.
“”Vernon, are you okay?”” Feel the blade chop and dice.”
The wordplay holds up from first paragraph to the last. Reader, I was in heaven. Ecstatic doesn’t begin to describe my happiness with this novel’s inventive word wit and sentence construction. I lost the plot many times in my appreciation. But oh my, the plot is genius, too. I want to read the book again, for certain.
I highly recommend this forgotten, even buried, jewel of a novel. However, a reader’s knowledge of English and American culture needs to be very deep to decipher sentences as creatively innovative as in this book.
Finished reading this novel last week, but needed more time to start writing this review. Still amazed. Here we are...
If you are not got acquainted with American slank, you will feel a little bit annoyed by the excessive use of American teenagers lingo. Obviously, this is a novel that can be included in the Guinnes Book of Records as the novel with most f-word (in all of its forms). I had estimated that at least there would be some 800 f-words in this novel (of course I am using sampling techniques). But, amazingly, seemed that Mr. Dirty But Clean Pierre could read his reader's mind. Unexpectedly, the f-word vanished in the last one-third part of the novel (so I wrong, because I assumed that the population of f-word in this novel is homogenous). I won't tell you why this drastic change happened. You should read it by yourself. It's just amazing, how a little, unimportant thing of using or not using f-word can give impact on the interpretation (yeah, at least for me) of the whole story.
Apart from the difficulties with the vocab/lingo, the story is very interesting. Mr. Finlay (the real name of DBC Pierre)surely a good story teller. He can make me engaged to his novel. Actually, I could not help reading the last one-third of this novel some five hours non-stop, while the next day I had a helluva works to do.
To make it short (if you want a more detail review, just visit Wiki), this novel is about a 15 (turned to 16) years old boy, Vernon Gregory Little, who was suffered from his best friend's mass-murdering, because of his bowel movement (can't you imagine that???). Opened with the interogation and ended with the revealation of what's really happened, climaxed in the execution process, the novel is just an effortless prose of Mr. Pierre, positioning himself as a nasty, sarcastic, full of angst, yet attracting your sympathy, teenage boy. The phrases, which seemed like a produce of unthoughtful thought, are just mesmerizing, make you ponder hard. "If things don't happen unless you see them happening, do they still happen if you think they're gonna - but don't tell nobody...?" Does this sentence really HAVE meaning??? Or is it just a clumsy thought of a depressed teenager?
Unanimously, this novel categorized as a dark comedy. You know I'm in a kind of hating a dark story, while I like comedies. But now, I think that I just love the marriage of the two. While sometimes I think the imagination of Mr. Pierre came to wild (isn't it absurd that the people of America chose the one to be executed through SMS voting??? Oh my, I just can't stand it! Right, it is a satirical, dark, comic novel. But, I'm really disturbed by this American Idol parody!), the rest of his imagination, his invention on the use of English words, his playing with G in the middle name of Vernon Little (Vernon Go-to-hell Little, Vernon Godzilla Little, Vernon Gay Little, Vernon Gonzalez Little, etc) showed his genius.
If I have to make a comparisons, I can compare this novel to 'Wonderboys' by Michael Chabon. Both stories are messy, while Chabon's can be considered as a civilized novel. This novel can also be compared to Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" (no, not because both have the word 'God' in their titles), for its inventive, flexible, experimental use of English words/phrases, while Roy's can be considered as a contemplative one and Pierre's as a not serious one.
Finally, my homage to the jury of Man Booker Prize 2003. You certainly know how to pick the winner. (FYI, four of five jury voted for this novel to be the year's winner).
Of late recommending 'Vernon God Little' to my mates seemed like a religious ritual to me. Sure, I liked this book very much when I read it about eight years back. All I remembered was, it was a dark humor in the backdrop of Columbine High School Massacre. I knew it was good, but not why. So, decided to give it another go during new year eve.
Why I must have liked this?
I seem to have a special liking for first person narrations. The more the narrator cusses, the better I like him/her. Vernon Gregory Little badmouths his mother like anything, it was a rarity on the books as much as I have read. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother, she is the last person I might disown if I am forced to that level. Still, 'knife in your back that loved-ones could twist on a whim' is a fresh paradigm shift, rather powerdime shift :)
The digs at media, fast food and anything contemporary. Reality TV shows' take over in later part of the book is a brilliant satire, even though it is not very new. Call me sick, I laughed more with this book than 'P.G Wodehouse' and 'Jerome K Jerome' combined.
Oh yeah, the thought process exhibited in this book doesn't look like, as if it is from a 15 year old school kid, more like a 40 year person fed up with his fucken life and people surrounding him. So what? Nobody else cusses like he does. I am positive Holden Caulfield would be proud of this 21st century specimen.
Not reading this book is not a sin, you might not miss anything in your life. Just like, not everyone needs to have a deadly hangover on a sunday morning. But the thrill is always there, after all you live this fucken life only once!
Well I learned you don't need to spell correctly to win the Man Booker Prize, as long as the misspelling is funnier and more poignant than the original word.
What a great ride, our hero the adolescent sane lad in the world of overweight and overwrought large Texan ladies, this book has more villains than a Guy Ritchie movie, and often moves at around the same pace.
The slightly mad looking photo on the inside cover simultaneously put me off but fascinated me. I can't wait to read anything else by this DBC Pierre, doesn't write like a Frenchman at all. Actually I blame some of his rampant backyard violent wit on his Australian heritage.
Nothing to do but quote from the hero:
"I drag the crusty edge of a T-shirt over my eyes, and try to get over things. I should clean up my mess, seeing as everybody's so antsy, but I feel like smeared shit. Then a learning jumps to mind, that once you plan to do something, and figure how long it'll take, that's exactly how long Fate gives you before the next thing comes along to do. 'Vern?' Mom hollers from the kitchen. 'Ver-non!'"
A slice of greatness. Thank you, fake French person.
Wow -such split reviews when it comes to this unique and incredible book. I see that a lot of those that gave it one star often gave up halfway, or where put off by the swearing - but the last 3rd of the book blew me away. I picked up this unlikely book as it is included on my 1001 things to read before you die, and whilst I was expecting teenage angst, swearing and snarling, I wasn't expecting to be touched so sincerely by characters that seem so unlikable at the start, and in fact spent the last 15 pages sobbing!!
Please, give this dirty little whirlwind a chance, and stick it out. I guarantee you will take more from the ending than you can imagine. A fabulous debut, and an author to watch.
A work relevant to current trends in media and material culture as well as a self-aware twist on the scapegoat archetype. Love the development of Vern's language as he wises up to the thought processes of his pursuers. Excellent and quick.
When the French accuse the United States of acting imperially in Iraq, Americans chuckle at how deaf they can be to our good motives. Pass the Freedom Fries, s'il vous plaît. But recent cultural messages from Europe may be more disturbing because they suggest just how deeply alarmed our friends across the Atlantic are about America's mental health.
Last spring, "Elephant" won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and now "Vernon God Little" has won the Booker Prize. Coincidentally, both Gus Van Sant's movie and D.B.C. Pierre's debut novel have just been released in the US. But perhaps not coincidentally, both these prize winners are based on the Columbine high school shooting in 1999.
Apparently, if such awards are any indication, when Europeans think of America, they're not just thinking of Ben Affleck and J. Lo, or even the Bushes' military exploits in the Middle East. They're thinking of children shooting each other.
The pervasive horror at American violence may be the only explanation for the Booker committee's bizarre decision to choose this grotesque satire as the best novel in the British Commonwealth. Pierre was reportedly shocked to have won, and having read it, I share his astonishment.
The story opens a few days after Jesus Navarro has murdered 16 of his classmates and committed suicide in the barren town of Martirio, "the barbecue sauce capital of Texas." Vernon Little, his only friend, is being held as a "skate-goat," and he narrates this bloody critique of American culture like a gutter version of Holden Caulfield facing execution. The plot revolves around human excrement, and the tone doesn't venture far beyond the radius of that odor.
"How could they think I did this?" Vernon asks angrily. "I hung out with the underdog, moved out of the pack, that's how, and now I fill his place."
I'd quote more, but I'd only be able to give you "and" and "the." Indeed, British critics have gone wild over the book's "authentic voice," by which they mean the way Little speaks exclusively in terms of copulation, waste, or female body parts.
If you see lots of movies, you know this is the way people speak in real life. And Vernon has seen many, many movies. Come to think of it, his constant allusions to cinema and television sound far more like those of a 42-year-old author than a 15-year-old pothead, but who gives a ****? It's the same annoying inconsistency that has Vernon usually saying things like, "There ain't puke enough in the world for today," while sometimes observing, "We play into an anesthetic sleep, just conscious of life collapsing around us in grainy pieces." Cool.
Poor Vernon is in deep trouble, all right. He's being held as an accessory to mass murder, but his gossipy mother is more concerned about impressing the neighbors with a new side-by-side refrigerator. A Freudian nightmare, she alternately weeps and nags. As he's led away by the sheriff, she calls after him, "Vernon, I love you! Forget about before - even murderers are loved by their families, you know...."
"Heck, Ma, I ain't a murderer!"
"Well I know - it's just an example."
Broad as this comedy is, Pierre takes his toughest shots at American media. Even before the police descend, "Lally" Ledesma, a CNN reporter, is already lurking in the yard, greasing his way into Vernon's confidence, seducing his mother, and flattering her chubby friends. He's a fount of journalistic clichés and faux sympathy: "Once again we don this cloak of mourning ... asking how do we heal America?" Pushed by Lally to recall the early signs of trouble in this "seemingly regular kid," one of Vernon's neighbor's finally remembers that in the weeks before the massacre, "his shoes got more aggressive."
Before Lally is through, he's betrayed Vernon multiple times, set up a sting operation to fake a confession on camera, and launched a reality-TV show in which viewers cast votes on who gets executed next. All this generates some laughs, but as a subject for satire, the rapacity of television news is as fresh as reruns of "Hard Copy."
What's more disappointing, though, is the way "Vernon God Little" ultimately descends to the same simplistic level it rails against in American culture. Psychologists, religious leaders, law enforcement officers, educators, and parents have sweat blood trying to fathom the dark forces that motivate these rare but terrifying acts of school violence. But here, we learn that it's all perfectly simple: The murderer was publicly humiliated as the victim of a gay porn ring. Ah hah! This is the sort of psychological depth we might expect from one of Vern's favorite made-for-TV-movies, but not from the British Commonwealth's best novel of the year.
Fiction, particularly sharp-eyed satire, can puncture the membrane of self-satisfaction that keeps us from seeing our own flaws and pathologies, but the Booker judges have erred if they hoped to convey that message. As Vern observes, "Where TV lets you down, I'm discovering, is by not convincing you how things really work in the world." The same might be said for some award-winning novels.
If you could sum up Vernon God Little in three words, what would they be? Dark, twisted, hilarious.
What other book might you compare Vernon God Little to, and why? The closest I can get is to say it's like 'Catcher In The Rye' if it had been written by Warren Ellis.
Have you listened to any of Nick Landrum’s other performances? How does this one compare? This is my first time listening to one of Nick Landrum's performances but he does an excellent job and I certainly hope to listen to more books he has narrated.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be? 'If you think you're having a bad day, watch this and think again.'
Any additional comments? Don't be put off by the tragic nature of this book's inciting incident. It is extremely well written and genuinely funny. Definitely the best book I've read this year (as of the beginning of July, anyway).
A lot went wrong with this first novel, but the most irritating literary offense for me was the way the not-entirely-authentic-but-still-close-enough-to-be-funny Texas dialect gets away from Pierre and spins off into pure nonsense. Combine hyperbolic pidgin Texas vernacular with a cheerfully misogynist, wholly unlikable narrator, and you get sentences like this: "I surf her upholstery with my nose, map her sticky heem along glimmering edges to the panty-leg, where the tang sharpens like slime-acid chocolate, stings, bounces me back from her poon."
Ew. Also, what?
It gets worse. Think The Chocolate War if it were longer, more bloated with pretentious notions of itself as literature, more anti-feminist, and about a school shooting. Yikes.
з вигляду вона тобі подобається. неймов��рно красиве видання, верстка, малюнки, дизайн, все подобається. поринаючи у історію Вернона, тебе починає все дратувати. дратують персонажі і їхня безглуздість, дратує шрифт книжки, дратує сам Вернон, бо ж як так, як так можна? Та чи чинив би я по-іншому, будучи на місці Вернона? Не знаю, думаю, коли тобі 15, майже 16, світ для тебе надто великий, та знаєш ти про нього все, здебільшого з телевізора. ДіБіСі П'єр висміює все глобальне, висміює найбільше медіа, які ганяючись за надприбутками, готові паплюжити людину.
Вернон Господь Літл - це історія про боротьбу за право розповісти свою, блядь, правдиву історію
wow, this book really seems to be of the love-it-or-hate-it variety, based on the number of 1 star and 5 star ratings. i'm going to split the difference and go with 3, since there were things i both loved and hated about it.
this novel won the booker prize in 2003, and a lot of people seem to think the british committee that hands out the prizes was giving a big middle finger to america with this one. it's not exactly the most flattering portrait of american society. the novel starts after a high school shooting, and the main character (vernon) is suspected of having a hand in it, though innocent. every character in the book seems to be out to get him -- every stereotyped, easy to hate, uneducated and dumb texan character. there was so much unfairness directed at vernon that i had to start reading sometime other than right before bed because i got so riled up i was having trouble sleeping. also, the last couple sections of the book kind of went off in a weird 1984/big brother/"the american media is out of control" kind of direction that i was not expecting and found heavy-handed.
that being said, the narration is done in a great postmodern funky youthful voice (though not entirely convincingly american) and the character of vernon is easy to root for. pierre uses some fantastic descriptive language -- a great example: "outside, a jungle of clouds has grown over the sun. they kindle the whiff of damp dog that always blows around here before a storm, burping lightning without a sound." and the first half of the novel, described by one critic as "huckleberry finn set on the mexican-american border and written by the creators of south park," was great fun. overall, a mixed bag, but a worthwhile read nonetheless.