Friday, August 08, 2008

Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre)


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..... life is this?

Jesus Navarro commits suicide in the Texas town of Martirio (Martyr) after carrying out a massacre. Vernon Little becomes the scapegoat, and goes on the run to Mexico as he tries to work out what life's about. DBC Pierre's debut novel won the 2003 Booker Prize, and is apparently the book most unfinished by British readers. That was me too until this morning, having bought the book several years ago in a 3 for 2 along with Life of Pi (Booker Prize winner in 2002) and something else..
At first I wasn't sure whether I liked this book at all. The language takes a bit of getting used to "written in contemporary vernacular - with the use of foul satirical language and a witty irony" and Vernon is hard to warm to. The story is, however, intriuging enough to have kept me reading as Vernon desperately seeks to avoid what seems to be inevitably coming to him only to be framed in comic circumstances with no apparent way out.

Tony Watkins: Vernon’s story is full of teenage fantasies and naive hopes, a feeling of helplessness, and a rising sense of injustice. On one hand you feel a deep pity for this kid with his awful home situation becoming the focus for the townspeople’s hysteria and need for a scapegoat. On the other hand, Vernon is not a pleasant character - he swears constantly, his mind is in the gutter and you’re not sure if you can trust him. One wonders in what ways Vernon’s ways of thinking reflect the past of the author, whose real name is Peter Finlay. He’s a recovering gambler, alcoholic and drug addict who has relied on crime and swindling his friends to finance his habits. He confesses to having been a fantasist who evaded responsibility and imagined that he could put everything right.

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