Friday, February 26, 2010

Lorraine's Review - Vernon Little God - 2003

Sometimes you can’t tell a book by the front cover but I knew the minute I looked at it that this was going to be one strange book.

DBC Pierre has no punctuation and is a pseudonym of Peter Warren Finlay. The cover art has sixteen tiny stick figures crossed out representing the bullying schoolmates killed by Jesus Navarro in Martirio, Texas. There is an image of a little boy in a straw cowboy hat going in a circle waving the American flag. He seems to represent the title character – Vernon – who was Jesus’ friend and is on the run as he is the scapegoat for the tragedy. Vern has seen the movie Against All Odds and so he figures Mexico would be great place to hide. He slips across the border but is turned in and goes on trial for mass murder.

The story reads like George Carlin adlibbing a weird story dreamt up by the Coen brothers. It is rife with swearing and lots of talk about bodily functions. It satirizes CNN and the media, life in small town America and trailer parks, con artists, psychiatry, the justice system, and much much more. There is no end to the barbs about daily life in the excited states of America where people rush to judgment as quickly as turning on or off their television sets.
Stylistically it charges ahead with a kind of wild and strange manic energy which I came to admire. After several pages I became accustomed to the use of “fucken” to describe almost everything in 15 - year - old Vernon’s life and I really hoped our hero would come out of the whole comedy alive. But sometimes I became annoyed the shambling chaos in the middle of the novel and it was not an especially easy read for me to hang onto.

Sometimes you can’t tell a book by its back cover and when I read these blurbs of the book is described in glorious terms (of course). I didn’t find the book that hilarious but I did laugh at many of the episodes in the book and the author’s sassy and startling writing style.


  1. Hi
    I loved this book when I read it a few years ago. it is not the kind of thing I would normally love, but it was just that the main character's life was such a disaster, and he kept making such hugely awful decisions that I found I just couldn't help but root for him. I so desperately wanted thing to come out ok, even though you just knew it couldn't.
    I think the chaos of the writing was the essence of it, of what made it so good. the way the bad decisions just piled up on each other and the consequences came tumbling down on him, like a roller coaster that you can't get off. life really is like that. it just goes, you can't ask it to hold on for a minute while you get your breath.
    sorry, waffling on a bit. nice to see things come up on blogs that I have enjoyed.
    thanks for sharing

  2. This may be my least favorite Booker winner. I can't even think of one I disliked more. I thought the story and writing were sophomoric and the satire was ham-fisted.

  3. This wasn't my favorite, but wasn't my least favorite either. I like Martine's comment about "the way the bad decisions just piled up on each other and the consequences came tumbling down on him, like a roller coaster that you can't get off."

  4. I agree that the satire was hamfisted. Unless the author was trying to write a satire of how English-speaking non-Americans view the USA - even then I'm going to consider this one of my least favourite Bookers. The top spot is still being held by Gordimer's The Conservationist.